TouchPal X Review

TouchPal X Review

Jan 13, 2014

Every mobile platform has (or should have) an anchor feature or two… or a dozen. I mean feature that makes it harder for people to switch over to other platforms. Android OS has a few for me, and one major one is the stock ability to install third-party keyboards. No matter what type of entry style, be it peck, swiping or finger writing, there is a keyboard available.

Swiping is my thing. Discovering it made the switch from physical keyboard device to one with a virtual keyboard possible. As it is, I’m always on the lookout for newer takes on swipe entry, and TouchPal X is an opportunity to do just that.

It’s advertised as a swipe keyboard, so, as expected, it is designed to input words that are constructed by continuous tp1dragging the finger across letters. As words are formed, the application’s predictive engine kicks in, and alternative suggestions are displayed at the top the keyboard to help correct words that might formed by errant swipe. In practice, this keyboard works well, with a high level of accuracy and prediction. It’s audio input option, activated by holding down the spacebar, is a pleasant surprise.

It comes with a dark look by default, with light lettering on grey keys and light graphics that highlight wave line. The emoji support is extensive, and the it also keeps speed stats.

Getting the keyboard set up is fairly easy. After installation, setup involves enabling the keyboard and picking it the default. It sports some nice customization options, and it is ready to get lost in these: keypress sounds, length if optional vibration, font of the keyboard, swipe animation and more can be tweaked to make it more aligned with its user. There are other themes as well, but it seems they have to be downloaded. At the risk of sounding like a spoiled fashionista, I do wish said themes become even more easily accessible down the line. Cloud functionality with regards to dictionaries and settings would also be a plus.

It’s a great keyboard to use, with enough options that should keep most Android users happy. Alternatives are always great, and it feels like TouchPal X is well on the way to earning a spot with the greats.

Swype Keyboard Review

Swype Keyboard Review

May 8, 2013

I’m a brave man. I believe a couple centuries ago, I would have been an explorer of sorts. I love a challenge, and few things scare me. Except spiders.

In any case, the prospect of switching from a device with a physical keyboard to one with a virtual one made me nervous. I was okay with switching from from one OS to another; I had done my research, liked the new ecosystem and liked the hardware available to me. The thing that really bothered me was the eventuality of having to peck on a touchscreen.

I’m here to tell folks: Swype made the switch possible.

Swype is an alternative keyboard from Nuance that changes the thumb/peck paradigm. Instead of (or, more accurately, in addition to) tapping with fingers, Swype allows for the user to input words by gliding a finger across letters without lifting a finger. The built-in predictive algorithm takes care of the rest.swype1

In practice, it is quite nifty. It does a pretty good job of guessing words accurately, and the suggestion tab right above the keyboard came in hand. For words it could not decipher, it allowed to to force them in by tapping; after this, I could add it to my dictionary. The keyboard sported an optional virtual trace line to aid the swiping motion. The keyboard itself was compact, and worked well in both portrait and landscape orientations. The English version was set up in the standard QWERTY layout, with the option to switch to a numbered keypad or two pages of special characters

I really liked the personalization options. It was possible to pick from several color themes, spacing and capitalization tweaks, and more. The user dictionary was editable and cloud-compatible. The built-in gestures that enabled stuff like hiding the keyboard or invoking the number pad was fantastic, as was the Dragon Dictation voice entry.

With regards to mobile data entry, swiping is not so new anymore; during Swype’s legendarily long beta process, several keyboards have incorporated the feature. Thus, I do believe Swype’s prediction engine could be sharper. Also, being able to adjust the size of the keyboard couldn’t hurt.

Still, Swype remains a very compelling productivity tool that can boast at least one world record.