Extreme Road Trip Review

Extreme Road Trip Review

Nov 30, 2011

Extreme Road Trip is an endless runner…well, endless driver, I suppose, that puts players in control of a vehicle that burns fuel at rates that make fossils cry out in fear. The goal is to drive as long as possible, mostly by performing flips with good landings to get turbo boosts to keep going. Runs end when either the vehicle is stopped by running out of fuel, or when the vehicle crashes. The latter happens far more often. There are 9 vehicles in total, and 4 environments to play in.

The game is free to play, and requires that the other 8 vehicles, from a monster truck to a cop car, be unlocked either by payment, or by completing offers. One is unlockable through liking the game on Facebook, the rest can be unlocked for free by installing and loading free apps. This is actually one of the more free to play games out there. Unlocking the other vehicles in some form is worth it, as they are much more fun and easier to use than the default vehicle.

The controls, which are simply done by holding left and right on the screen to rotate the vehicle in that direction, work well for touchscreens and are very responsive. Tablet owners will be glad to know that the game is optimized for them, as well. The chiptune-inspired soundtrack by Magnus ‘Souleye’ Pålsson of VVVVVV fame is particularly enjoyable. 

That initial vehicle being so poor compared to the unlockable ones seems like a poor design choice, especially for a game that is looking to hook players into either spending money or supporting their ad network. It is just so inferior and difficult to use will likely turn many users away after the initial download. If it was more balanced, it would make the initial proceedings much more entertaining. As well, each vehicle should have some kind of descriptor as to its abilities before using it. They become apparent after usage (read: the cars are faster but more fragile, the trucks and jeeps are easier to land), but some kind of concrete differences would make things more user-friendly.

Extreme Road Trip is an entertaining free diversion for Android, and great as a pick up and play title. Those looking for a good endless runner, or a free to play game that doesn’t sell currency for real-world money should check this out.

World of Goo Review

World of Goo Review

Nov 30, 2011

2D Boy’s indie smash hit World of Goo is slowly traversing across the gaming universe, to any platform that is pointer control-friendly. From computers to Wii to iOS, now in 2011, the World of Goo experience is now available on Android. The point of World of Goo is to use goo balls to connect a starting goo point to the vacuum at the end, trying to suck up the additional goo balls. There are standard ones that are one-time only uses, ones that can be moved around, ones that serve as balloons, and more.

World of Goo has far more personality than many puzzle games. The hint signs tease a bigger story about what the goo balls are, and what the World of Goo Corporation wants to do with them. The levels require a sense of knowledge about how to keep them stable, and how to balance them out in time before structures collapse. Many levels are explicitly based around building quickly before the environment changes, or flimsy structures collapse. They just have to stand up long enough to become sucked up by the end-level vacuum. Extra goo balls above the maximum are sent to the World of Goo Corporation level, where they can be built with freely, with leaderboards for the tallest height of a structure. Android tablet owners will love the game, as it is properly optimized for their devices, and multitouch can be used to manipulate multiple goo balls at once on the bigger screen.

The big problem with the controls are that finding and choosing the correct goo ball is often hectic because of the way that all the other goo balls move around on the current goo structure. Picking up the wrong goo ball happens way too often. To run the risk of sounding like an infomercial, I have to exclaim: “there’s got to be a better way!” A better indicator of the connections a goo ball will make would be helpful; in some levels it can be quite dim and hard to tell, and the difference between connections can be mere pixels. He ability to zoom in and out would solve a lot of these issues I mentioned.

World of Goo is a fine physics puzzler, though the controls are a definite issue that pops up. Still, for Android gamers who haven’t checked out one of its previous incarnations, this is well worth a pickup.

Fruit Roll Review

Fruit Roll Review

Nov 30, 2011

I love a game that has instructions in the title. Fruit Roll is a game wherein you are a piece of fruit, rolling along. As you go you collect stars and roll over opponents. It’s fantastically straight-forward – you don’t even control the speed or direction of the rolling. It’s very charming in its simplicity, and another favourite for playing on the bus.

Fruit Roll has no plot, but it really doesn’t need one. As mentioned, you play as a piece of fruit, and each stage begins with you rolling across the screen. You cannot stop rolling, but you are able to jump. Jumping allows you to target and collect stars along the path. There are various other (non-sentient) fruit along the path and collecting them has benefits. There are different obstacles/enemies along the way, and the type of fruit you are determines whether or not rolling into them will knock them off the screen or cause you to come to a teary-eyed halt. Collecting three fruit of the same kind is a combo and not only will you change into that fruit, but a giant, rampaging version of that fruit. You’ll destroy everything in your path and have a much better shot at grabbing stars since you’re four times your regular size. The combo will run out however and you will return to your original fruit size. Each level becomes more difficult as the incline down which you’re rolling increases and so you roll much faster and with less control over your movements – one wrong jump could send you flying into the hands of an angry monkey and end your turn abruptly.

I really like this game for its lack of story. The fruit does have and needs no motivation to run over the caterpillars and red frogs in its path. Snagging the stars as you fly across the screen is rather addictive, like the coins in Mario, and is motivation enough.

Running into an opponent that you are not classed to knock off screen causes you to “die” and you are back to the first stage with none of your stars to show for it. This is the game’s real weak spot, as the only gameplay mode you begin with is Adventure (continuous play). There is apparently a mini-game mode, but it can only be reached by collecting 10,000 stars. This would happen soon enough if dying didn’t completely erase your store of stars each time. At a certain point this can become frustrating enough that it dampens the enthusiasm needed to keep rolling along. The game is fun, but needs more reasons to keep coming back.

Securebook App Review

Securebook App Review

Nov 30, 2011

Fortunately for me none of my immediate family members are on Facebook. However, as Facebook becomes more ubiquitous into our culture there seems to be less freedom about what you can share amongst your friends. Sure, you can filter your friends on Facebook but I’m not sure I know anyone who actively uses that option. Securebook is an app that allows you to share secret posts within posts to any one Facebook friend with this app, and since Auntie Beth probably won’t be using this on her 2005 Razr, you should be safe.

When entering a post into Securebook you first put a fake post that will be visible to the general Facebook populace, and then underneath it your real, probably private, post. For example, say you want to advertise a big kegger at your house tonight on Facebook, but don’t want your whole family and Catholic school friends to know. Simply enter, “Studying hard tonight” into the Status box and “Massive kegger at my house tonight.” into the Secure Post area. Now the only people who can see the Secure Post are those with the Securebook app on their phones.

Securepost does this by putting a long code after your status that the built in Facebook News Feed browser detects and then displays the real post underneath. This, like other social apps is unfortunately dependent on making sure all your friends have and actively use the app. Also, there is no way to siphon out non-secure posts, so it’s easy to miss a post if you have a busy news feed or don’t check with extreme regularity. There is also Twitter support, and Tweets are placed right next to Facebook statuses in your News Feed.

This app is in the strange predicament of trying to grow its user base but keep it small enough so that it retains its original purpose. If your mom and Aunt Beth have it on their phones then there really is no point, but there has to be friends using Securebook to decode your posts. Overall, the jury is still out on Securebook, if you can get your close circle used to using it, this app can be very useful.

Where’s My Water? Review

Where’s My Water? Review

Nov 29, 2011

Swampy the Alligator is a contradiction. He’s an alligator, cursed to live in the swamps and sewers that his kind normally dwell. Yet, he is a creature of grace and dignity – he prefers to eat with utensils and napkins, and likes to keep himself clean. Yet, clean water is difficult to come by in the sewers. So, Swampy gets into situations where he can get his water to take his precious baths, but he leaves it up to a benevolent unknown force – the player – to make the water get to him. The player must cut through dirt to guide water into a pipe that reaches Swampy. As well, there are bad elements, such as slime and corrosive acid, that must not reach Swampy’s pipe, but must occasionally be used to clear paths for Swampy’s bathwater to reach its intended destination.

This game follows the same formula that Angry Birds and Cut the Rope followed to great success, namely: “cute character + physics puzzles = profit.” Well, it works! Where’s My Water is extremely fun, and the puzzles offer plenty of variety, and challenging levels. Many demand quick timing, and thinking on one’s feet in order to succeed. It also has that intangible element, that factor that made me want to earn three ducks (this game’s star system) whenever possible, and to keep playing until I suddenly realized that I had just played through an entire set of levels in one burst. There’s a ton of content at launch as well, with 132 levels available, including the first major content update that hit iOS. This game is published by Disney, and it shows; Swampy is exceptionally animated, and his reactions to success and failure are a large part of the emotional connection that forms while playing. While using a tablet like the Xoom in portrait orientation over time is annoying, the game does run perfectly well on them.

The only real concern with Where’s My Water is that learning to use the touch controls precisely takes some time; issues with accidentally cutting to an unintended spot will happen, but they are a big part of the game’s learning curve. This physics puzzler deserves to be in the echelon of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, and is a highly-recommended use of a dollar.

Blood and Glory Review

Blood and Glory Review

Nov 29, 2011

Blood and Glory is Glu’s latest freemium title, and it takes direct inspiration from iOS mega-hit Infinity Blade. The gameplay is similar, if not identical; players stand in one-on-one arenas against a gladiatorial opponent, dodging, defending, and parrying attacks in order to stun the enemy to unleash combos upon them. Fights are set up as part of tournament ladders, where players must defeat several opponents in a row to win, getting coins to spend on new items like weapons, shields, and helmets. Rubies serve as this game’s credits, being used to buy coins, special items, and potions for healing and stat buffing. They can be acquired through leveling up, by completing Tapjoy offers, and by purchasing them.

Blood and Glory may be familiar, but the gameplay does work well here, and actually provides more of a challenge. Without magic spells, and with smaller parrying windows than its progenitor, it proves to be far more difficult. At least potions, while not exactly cheap to acquire, can be used mid-match as well. The game does look really good on the iPad and Retina Display. Plenty of interesting armor and weapons are available despite the concept of this game being ever-so-slightly more grounded in reality, including one shield that would make Ed Gein proud.

The game would have done well to differentiate its product a bit more than as it currently stands. While it’s structurally different, the gameplay cuts close enough that it actually is on that line of being a clone. While unlike the Ninja Fishing controversy, no one is going to be weeping for Epic and ChAIR Entertainment, especially as they’ve reportedly made over $20 million from Infinity Blade. However, principally, it’s about the same, and more differences in gameplay to make it its own game would have been appreciated. Also, this game will be very difficult to play for free for a long time, as potions are only available through the in-app credits system. In fact, a lot of money will need to be spent in order to explore the game’s depths, especially with tournaments that cost large amounts of gems to get in. While making some items expensive is par for the course for other freemium Glu games and is perfectly fine with me, making potions only available through credits that are sparingly given out in-game does not sit well with me.

Sure, it’s basically Infinity Blade wrapped up in a Glu freemium shell. But Infinity Blade was quite fun, and Blood and Glory follows a similar path to feature similarly entertaining gameplay. While the freemium elements providing a glorified paywall after a short amount of time is a little on the annoying side, this is a good stopgap for people who are tired of slaying the God King, and need something to do while they wait for Infinity Blade 2. Android owners might get more satisfaction out of this, as their platform lacks for Infinity Blade entirely.

Sega Launches ChuChu Rocket on Android While Sonic Advance Races Off in Japan

Sega Launches ChuChu Rocket on Android While Sonic Advance Races Off in Japan

Nov 29, 2011

Sega is beginning to ramp up their Android gaming efforts, bringing some various titles to the platform, though not all are available yet for gamers outside of their native Japan.

First up is everyone’s favorite Dreamcast game, Chu Chu Rocket. The action-puzzle game that has players laying down tiles to get mice into their own rockets and cats into their opponents’ rockets has traveled to the Game Boy Advance, iOS, and now is here on Android, developed by Binary Hammer. They are the same studio that handled the very good iOS port. This version doesn’t have the online multiplayer that the iOS version supports, and there’s no single-device multiplayer for tablets, though the game does run well on them. Those concerned about apps with wild and random permissions will be glad to know that the app actually requires no permissions at all, though. The game is available now for $0.99. Consult 148Apps’ review of the iOS version if any more convincing is necessary.

This is Sega’s second release in the US, excluding Sonic CD which is currently only available on GameStop’s Android tablets. Over in Japan, Sega’s been making a huge Android push. Their latest release includes Sonic Advance, a port of 2002′s groundbreaking Sonic game; groundbreaking in that it was the first original Sonic title published on a Nintendo system. The elementary school Sega fanboy is still in denial. Sega of Japan recently released it exclusively for Japanese phones for free. This isn’t their only Japan-only release, as several other titles are available, including an Android betaversion of their iOS free to play MMORPG, Kingdom Conquest. The game has done well on the Top Grossing charts on iOS, and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t do as well on US Android shores. Hopefully Sega releases some of these titles for US folk soon.

Sony Digital Network Applications Launches Photo Editor and Video Connector Apps

Sony Digital Network Applications Launches Photo Editor and Video Connector Apps

Nov 29, 2011

Sony Digital Network Applications continues their line of Android media editing apps, with two new recent releases. As previously announced here on the site, two new stylish and easy-to-use tools are now available for Android devices: Photo Editor and Video Connector. Both do pretty much what they say on the tin, but have some special features to them as well.

Photo Editor allows for various frames and decorations to be added to photos. Users can add special graphics for comical effect, along with customizable text boxes. Special frames can be added to make photos appear more decorative. There’s also a variety of post-processing effects available, such as color modification, pencil stitching effect, pixelation, simulated SLR effect, and more. This is in addition to the basic photo operations, like cropping, scaling, and flipping, that would be expected from any decent photo editor. Photo Editor is available now from the Android Market.

Video Connector can be used to help stitch together multiple separate video files together into one. Users add videos with a simple upward swipe to call up the list of videos, swipe left and right to move them left and right, and down to delete. Note that videos of unequal attributes cannot be combined, so they have to be the same resolution and file type in order to be stitched together by the app. Still, this is something that could be used to easily bring together several videos recorded consecutively, like on a vacation, without having to use dedicated editing software. As well, the ability to make sure videos stay under certain file limits, identical to Sony’s earlier video editing software, is present. This app is also currently available from the Android Market.

Sony Digital Network Applications has one more announced application coming out in the future: Photo Movie Creator HD. When this is released, we will have coverage of it and of future apps from Sony Digital Network Applications.

Rundown: Nook Tablet Hands On Review

Rundown: Nook Tablet Hands On Review

Nov 28, 2011

I am a true-blue, dyed in the wool Apple iOS device supporter. I have had an iPhone since day one, and I own and work with iPads and Mac computers every day. But I have to tell you, right here: I am seriously, significantly impressed with Barnes and Noble’s new Android-based nook Tablet. Wow.

Opening the now-familiar nook-style packaging, I felt something I’ve only experienced with the Apple design-centric packaging before – a sense of familiarity and comfort. I’ve owned a nook since the very first eInk device they released in November of 2009, and have upgraded since then to a nook Simple Touch eInk reader. Each iteration of the nook device has been boxed in a similar solid feeling cardboard box. These boxes are easily opened, with the cord and power plug in a separate bottom section, the device itself snugly ensconced in the top. Lifting the lid on the nook Tablet was like coming home, and my inner geek squee-ed a bit.

The device itself is beautiful – looking almost exactly like last year’s nook Color (which I skipped since, well, I *have* an iPad) except the shade of grey of the frame. The screen is a long 8.1 inches by 5.0 inches, and the whole device feels solid yet intimately holdable, with a weight of 14.1 ounces and a thickness of just shy of a half an inch. At first, I thought using it in landscape orientation, especially while reading, would be awkward. After several days of comfortable before-bed reading, I can say that it excels as an e-reader in either orientation.

Speaking of reading, as a long time B&N account holder, I already have about 40 books that I’ve either purchased, sampled, or gotten for free through the in-store promotions over the last couple of years. It’s a joy to turn on the nook Tablet, log in to my B&N account, and have most of my preferences and books ready for download to this specific device. This is cloud-based heaven for book and content lovers. Even my social network preferences were filled in from the one account log in. Brilliant!

Reading books is as fantastic as ever. Tapping on words and passages brings up a host of options, including an onboard dictionary look up feature as well as an easy social network sharing ability. The LCD backlit display isn’t the way I want to read all my books all the time – I’ll save my nook Simple Touch eInk reader for that – but it’s very usable, allowing me to adjust brightness down in a dark room with a fairly low glare screen. Good stuff when I only have the one device.

But I didn’t pick this one up to be my eReader. The nook Tablet has a 1 GHz dual core processor with 1 GHz of RAM (twice that of the competing Amazon Fire). The onboard memory is 16 Gb (with an unfortunately under explained 1 Gb only reserved for user owned and ad hoc data – more on this in a tic) with an micro SD slot to expand that with up to an extra 32 Gb of storage space.

Barnes and Noble doesn’t talk up the walled memory approach it’s taking with the nook Tablet. Essentially, users have only 1G of onboard memory allowed for their own non-B&N content. The rest of the 16 G is reserved for B&N content, which will include some reported third party media partners soon, as well as their own movie rental service. Add that kind of data, as well as the larger sized magazine content already available, and that “only B&N content” section will likely fill up fast. I was initially disappointed that this was the approach, but so far have not had an issue with it, and don’t expect to.

The app store approach here is similar to Amazon’s – Barnes and Noble curates their own version of the Android app store to provide an easy of entry to neophyte potential customers. While I still plan on rooting the device at some point to make te entire Android experience available on my new tablet, I sincerely appreciate this approach when I consider my parents or other family members who might want to dip their toes into the water of downloading apps without having to manage the chaos that is the Android app marketplace. Even with my technical savvy, I have to say I enjoyed the hand-holding.

The app store on the tablet itself is well laid out. Pressing the ‘n’ button at the bottom of the device brings up the navigation buttons, which include home, library, shop, search, apps, web and settings. Tap apps and get the currently installed apps on the device. This can be laid out in two styles: a grid/bookshelf type view in either a general or alphabetized flavor and a list view with app icons to the left, descriptions to the right. At the top of any of these views, a SHOP NOW link is present. Tap it and go directly to the apps portion of the B&N online store, provided the nook is connected to the internet via WiFi. Categories are perhaps more fine grained than what I’m used to on the iTunes App Store, with each large category further refined with smaller subcategories. For example, the Education and Reference category has Children, Dictionaries, Special Education, Medical, Encyclopedias, and Legal subcats. Granted, many apps in each of the subcategories seem spurious (why is Amazing Zen Quotes in the Special Education category?), just having more specificity is truly wonderful. I look forward to more apps and better categorization in the near future.

Searching for apps is another matter, however. When searching for a specific app, I found that the results include books and magazines that match the search term as well. This is no way to run an app search. A search for ‘IM’ brought up IM+ (for $9.99 – ugh), but only after five books with the word “I’m” in the title. I’d like to see a separate search for apps that does not include books, even if the app offerings are currently slim.

Which, interestingly, does not seem to be the case. I’m tempted to say that the app store on the nook Tablet feels more populated than the Nintendo DSi online store felt when it was first launched, but I don’t have any hard numbers to back that up.

What doesn’t this tablet have? Well, a camera, 3G, GPS, or Bluetooth. That’s a lot of missing stuff to make this a full tablet experience. However, is this such a bad thing? This is a new tablet category, as can be seen with the competitor, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which doesn’t have these things, either. No, what this new type of tablet brings to the party is a sweet little consumer level device at a great price point. What swayed me to the nook side of town was the extra & expandable storage, the fact that I am already a Barnes & Noble customer (my purchased books are now available on both my nooks and my computer), and the local presence of a B&N store in my city for warranty or other tech support. That being said, this is a fairly user friendly device – folks new to the tablet or the eReader scene will be able to use the nook Tablet right out of the box. To me, that’s a big mark in the nook Tablet’s favor.

Overall, the nook Tablet is a fine entry level device for media consumption, book reading, and basic internet functionality, like email and web surfing. It’s not an iPad killer, nor even much of a competitor. It’s in fair competition with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and – I believe – is the better of the two devices on specs alone. Of course, not having a Fire to back that opinion up is something that I’m willing to change, if I end up with my hands on a Fire. For now, though, I’m glad for the purchase of the nook Tablet, and look forward to taking it with me to places that the iPad might be a bit of an overkill. Man, I love the future.

The Hills Are Greener: Learn to Take a Joke

The Hills Are Greener: Learn to Take a Joke

Nov 28, 2011

It appears as if Apple fans can dish it out but not quite take it. Samsung has introduced a new ad for the Galaxy S 2 that takes a few digs at fans of the iPhone. Check it out below:

This naturally has caused much whining from the more hardcore and insecure iPhone and Apple fans, so used to giving Android owners a hard time at any opportunity, but now seemingly unwilling to take a joke in kind. Here’s the dirty little secret, though: the ad is really quite accurate. Apple fans do often have a tunnel vision when it comes to Apple. They think Apple products are the best in the world, are not afraid to publicize their devotion, and tend to think very highly of themselves for being Apple fans. But sometimes, showing the die-hard Apple corps an Android phone is enough to soften them up a bit; after all, the big, bright, vibrant screen of a phone like the Galaxy S line is hard to not be impressed by, even when shown to some of the more ardent Apple fans.

This is because of the culture that Apple has created – it inspires devotion and worship of Apple. They have tended to attract those creative types, and many of those type-A personalities that aren’t afraid to voice their opinions and love of Apple. A guy like John Gruber is very steadfast in his opinions, which are more often than not pro-Apple. Other Apple diehard fans tend to not mince pulling out the knives at any kind of Android criticism they can. There’s just something about Apple fandom that inspires this kind of fervor, and desire to leap to their defense that no other company can muster. It’s likely fostered by even just little things like including Apple stickers with their products that helps inspire people to spread the Apple love.

So now that a nationally-airing ad dares to point out that these Apple fans, who are willing to camp out for their beloved company’s products, now they can’t take it? The insecurity is cute. Remember, not everyone wants an iPhone. Maybe people want widgets, more customization options, and apps with fewer restrictions? Maybe people want phones with bigger screens because they think that it’s more useful, or that the whole justification of Apple’s 3.5″ screen size is a bunch of bunk? Lighten up, Apple fans. I’m just surprised it took this long for someone to try and take a few shots at the fans of the company at 1 Infinite Loop.

Awesome Widgets App Review

Awesome Widgets App Review

Nov 28, 2011

Awesome Widgets is an intriguing challenger to one of the most popular widgets collections on Android, Beautiful Widgets. It’s hard to directly compete with Beautiful Widgets without doing something different which is why Awesome Widgets offers app bars in place of the single toggle shortcuts of it’s competitor. Unfortunately, a poor clock widget greatly diminis,hes the value of this app.

The problem with the clock is its insistence on the addition of an image on the left of the clock widget. This is very bizarre because for an app that’s supposed to be about customization, it’s impossible to edit the size of the time; it’s fixed at half the width of the screen with that pesky icon taking up the remaining latitude. Also the widget only comes in one size and weather has to be displayed at the bottom. These restrictions don’t kill the widget because the low res and tacky themes take care of that right away.

The app bars look and work better (thankfully) than the clocks. The stock icons look very nice and the downloadable skins do a good job adding character to your home page. For the most part the shortcuts work as expected and there are a decently large number of functions to pin to these bars, even though I still prefer the app Widgetsoid for this function. You can store up to 8 icons in one bar which can be very effective in extending the functionality of your home screens. A cool feature is the ability to display local forecasts on your home screen. Awesome Widgets provides multiple forecast options from 5 day to hourly, and this is a nice addition because it gives Awesome Widgets something to set it apart from its more refined competitors.

If Awesome Widgets was free or a buck it would be a tempting purchase because it did run well on my EVO 4G, but seeing as its only 50 cents cheaper than the vastly superior Beautiful Widgets I have trouble recommending this app and it’s not the best value out there.

Replacing Your Stock Keyboard

Replacing Your Stock Keyboard

Nov 28, 2011

There’s no debate that physical keyboards are superior to their virtual counterparts but most people aren’t willing to trade clunky mechanical sliders, smaller screen sizes, and thicker phones for that convenience. So this post is a look at three of the top keyboard apps in the Marketplace: GO Keyboard, Smart Keyboard PRO, and SwiftKey X. The differences between these three keyboards are very marginal. All three offer very solid autocorrect features and all three allow skinning and heavy customization. We’re going to look at the differences at these apps by evaluating how they do in two different areas: Precision and Aesthetics & Performance.

Precision

In terms of tracking exactly where your finger hits all three of these apps are equal, but GO Keyboard seemed to give for greater accuracy by using its predictive text to guess at what letters were coming next and essentially giving them the benefit of the doubt on a misplaced keystroke. The autocorrect features, as I stated earlier, are very similar and all do a decent job. However, SwitftKey X has a predictive text feature that analyzes what you’ve typed previously and queues that word up in the bar above the keyboard. For example, typing “I’m feeling under the” would prompt the word “weather” and to select this all you need to do is hit the spacebar. This creates problems, though, causing you to inadvertently insert unwanted words by pressing the spacebar one too many times. SwiftKey X has the option to analyze your texts, Facebook status, tweets, contacts, and emails to find patterns in your speech. This works really well, since I have the habit of starting many of my texts with the word “Yea” and SwiftKey X didn’t try to correct it to “Yes” the first time it saw it like the other two keyboards.

Of the three, only GO Keyboard comes with swipe texting, but the trade off is that SwiftKey X and Smart Keyboard PRO both have gesturing. For example, swiping to the left on either of these will delete the previous word all together. However the option to edit these gestures is only available on Smart Keyboard PRO and not SwiftKey X. The swipe texting on GO Keyboard works really well and might be better than Swype that comes on my EVO 4G, which can be buggy. The only problem I have is that GO Keyboard doesn’t allow you to point back to another word and delete some letters if you’re currently editing a word. This does get frustrating but is nothing that can’t be overcomes with use.

Lastly, Smart Keyboard PRO allows you to switch between a full, compact, and T9 mode. The full and T9 modes are self explanatory and the compact mode is probably the best, and allows this one to stand out from the others. In this mode, the keys are in groups of two and its like a hybrid between T9 and a full keyboard. The best part is that you can do this in full predictive mode or a classic “tap twice for the second letter,” and you can quickly switch between these two modes with the touch of a button. This allows for quick, predictive texting and the freedom to easily add in words that don’t appear in the dictionary.

RESULTS
Smart Keyboard PRO — 9.0
GO Keyboard — 8.5
SwiftKey X — 8.5

Aesthetics and Performace

All these apps allow for downloadable skins and though neither have an incredibly deep library, they are diverse so that you won’t have a hard time finding the style you’re looking for. More customization is allowed almost universally, allowing the height and width of keys to be changed. The only aesthetic difference is that with Smart Keyboard PRO and SwiftKey X the keys can be made flat, whereas GO Keyboard appears raised. But we’re splitting hairs here. Only GO Keyboard has the option to change the font, but aesthetically you can’t go wrong with either app.

All these apps run as flawless as an app can run and they are all just as fast to appear as the stock keyboard. In terms of speed with autocorrecting all three apps are equally fast and don’t slow you down. This category is as close to a dead even as is possible.

RESULTS
Smart Keyboard PRO — 9.0
GO Keyboard — 8.5 (I prefer the flat keys)
SwiftKey X — 9.0

Conclusion

All three of these keyboards are the best and are better than the stock keyboard on your phone. This truly boils down to preference, but know that you will be content with any of these apps. If you love swipe texting then GO Keyboard is the best for you, and the fact that it’s free makes it the best value here. If you’re not an accurate texter, Smart Keyboard X and its compact keyboard is probably the best. SwiftKey X is a good all around keyboard that deserves a look for those who are accurate and are looking for speedy texting.