IKnowU Review

IKnowU Review

Jan 8, 2013

The keyboard on Android device is one of the most used apps. Pretty much everything revolves around some sort of keyboard related input. Because of this, having a really nice keyboard is super important. IKnowU is an Android keyboard meant to help increase typing speed and efficiency.

As anyone who has used a mobile phone with autocorrect can attest to, the the accuracy of the autocorrect isn’t always the best. IKnowU does a really good job at predicting the intended words vs. feeling like it’s just making something up. IKnowU has a couple of ways to help with getting the desire word or phrases faster.

There is the normal prediction bar showing the potential words based on letters already typed in. Most phones and replacement keyboards have something like this. To type quickly, enter a few letters and look at the prediction bar to see if the word is there. If the wprd is in the prediction bar, tap on the word and move on. What is a little different with IKnowU is, if the word in the prediction bar has “…” after it, pressing and holding on that word will bring up a new set of predictions with words that might commonly be next in the sentence.

The grouping feature is pretty cool too. Typing in a few letters then holding the spacebar pulls up word options. By simply sliding a finger from word to word, a partial sentence can be created.

Syncing the personal dictionary across multiple devices is possible using their cloud sync service. This requires an account, but it still super nice feature not many keyboards offer.

In the settings, there is are a few options for different keyboards for tablets. When the tablet is in landscape mode, there is a split keyboard with the numerical characters to the left side of the screen and the letters on the right, there’s also what’s called a thumb keyboard. The thumb keyboard is nice because it splits the alphabetical characters down the middle and places the numerical characters in the center.

IKnowU is one of the most feature-packed keyboards on the market and well worth a try.

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.

SwiftKey Tablet X Review

SwiftKey Tablet X Review

Aug 2, 2011

Tablets are big devices, big enough to where typing is often extremely difficult when holding the tablet in two hands. The full-sized keyboard is just awkward to type on unless there is something propping up the rest of the device. However, what some developers have come up with are keyboards designed to be used while holding the tablet, enabling normal typing with just the thumbs. Thumb Keyboard is one such option, and another comes from SwiftKey, with SwiftKey Tablet X. This keyboard combines the normal SwiftKey predictive text system, where suggestions for what SwiftKey thinks is what is being typed are displayed, with a keyboard that offers access to QWERTY keys from both thumbs.

This is a gamechanger for Android tablets. The prediction engine works very well, and it can look up the user’s Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook accounts to improve the predictions off the bat. The settings track the number of keystrokes saved, and it definitely feels like my typing has become more accurate as I use the keyboard and predictions more. The thumb-friendly keyboard also makes using the keyboard in two hands a possibility. Web browsing, tweeting, and even typing all feel more natural, as less shifting of the tablet in my hands is necessary in order to type. This is what using a tablet should feel like. The option exists for shifting to a full-sized keyboard as well, for those who may dislike thumb keyboards, or when the tablet is propped up on a desk or table. Theming options exist, as well as access to the speech to text service.

The ability to adjust key size would be welcome; sometimes some of the keys require more stretching of the thumbs than what feels comfortable. Options for spacing with punctuation keys like the semicolon are needed, as when used with predictions, it often requires backspacing in order to put the symbol right after a word. For example, I want commas and semicolon entry to complete the autocorrect’s word, and then put that punctuation mark in with no space beforehand. These options do not exist at this time, though.

This keyboard is fantastic, and has made using my tablet a dream. For owners of Android 3.x tablets, this is a must-have.