iOS 8 keyboards from SwiftKey, Swype, & Fleksy compared: Everybody wins

by Devindra Hardawar on September 19, 2014

iOS 8 keyboards from SwiftKey, Swype, & Fleksy compared: Everybody wins

Above: SwiftKey’s iOS 8 keyboard

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Is this real life? Or is this just fantasy? I’m proudly using a non-Apple keyboard on my iPhone 5S — no jailbreaks necessary.

One of the most surprising additions to iOS 8 — allowing third-party keyboards to replace Apple’s built-in keyboard — is just a small example of the biggest philosophical shift in Apple’s new OS: Apple is finally opening up iOS to developers in a big way. And by doing so, it gives iOS 8 plenty of features previously only available to Android users.

It’s no surprise then that alternative iOS 8 keyboards are now topping the App Store charts just a day after iOS 8’s release (Swype and Fleksy are the top paid apps at the time of this post, while SwiftKey is the top free app). SwiftKey also just announced that its iOS 8 keyboard has been downloaded over a million times in under 24 hours. Talk about pent-up demand.

But Apple isn’t sitting still either: iOS 8 also features a revamped built-in keyboard with contextual word suggestions, similar to SwiftKey’s.

To get a better sense of how the most popular third-party keyboards compare — especially against Apple’s revamped keyboard — I typed out the below passage from Haruki Murakami’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World on all of them, with no corrections.

On the whole, I think of myself as one of those people who take a convenience-sake view of prevailing world conditions, events, existence in general. Not that I’m such a blasé, convenience-sake sort of guy — although I do have tendencies in that direction — but because more often than not I’ve observed that convenient approximations bring you closer to comprehending the true nature of things.

iOS 8's revamped keyboard

Above: iOS 8’s revamped keyboard

Image Credit: Apple

Apple’s iOS 8 keyboard

I’ve actually grown to like Apple’s new keyboard in iOS 8. Autocorrect feels more accurate than past versions, and the word suggestions are a nice addition (they’re especially useful for one-handed typing). But I’m also not one of those people that forged an undying hatred for Apple’s past keyboards.

Here’s the Murakami passage:

On the whole, I think of myself as one of those people who take a convenience-sake view of prevailing world conditions, events, existence in general. Not that I’m such a blade, convenience-sake sort of guy — although I do have tendencies in that direction — but because more often than not I’ve observed that convenient approximations bring you closer to comprehending the true nature of things.

Surprisingly, the only error I can see here is replacing blasé with blade. Beyond that, this was a stellar transcript. I was also able to type fairly quickly with the iOS 8 keyboard, but perhaps it just came to me a bit quickly after using iPhones for years.

SwiftKey iOS 8 screenshot

SwiftKey

With its stellar autocorrect, word suggestions, and continual learning capabilities, SwiftKey quickly became my favorite Android keyboard several years ago. I used it on the HTC One for over a year, and I also install it on most Android phones that I review. With iOS 8, SwiftKey felt just as good:

On the whole, I think of myself as one of those people who take a convenience-sake view of prevailing world conditions, events, existence in general. Not that I’m such a blade, convenience-same sort of guy — although I do have tendencies in that direction — but because more often than not I’ve observed that convenient approximations bring you closest to comprehending the true nature of things.

Surprisingly, SwiftKey gave me the same result as Apple’s built-in keyboard. Once again, blasé is replaced with blade, but that’s an admittedly tough correction for every English keyboard. Typing with SwiftKey felt a bit faster than the iOS 8 keyboard, and I also noticed that its word suggestions were often more relevant.

Swype's iOS 8 keyboard

Above: Swype’s iOS 8 keyboard

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Swype

Swype made a name for itself with a whole new way of typing on phones: Instead of tapping out keys, you can swipe your fingers across letters to spell out words. There’s plenty more reliance on algorithms to figure out what you’re trying to type, but it could be useful for people who can’t quite get the hang of typical touchscreen keyboards. (SwiftKey offers a similar feature, Flow, which I didn’t test.)

On the whole I think of myself as one of those people who take a convenience-sake view of prevailing world conditions, events, existence in general. Not that I’m such a blade, conf science sake sort of gut–although I do have tendencies in that direction–but because more often than not I’ve observed that convenient approximation has bring you closest to comprehending the true nature of things.

Once I got into the groove of Swype, it was pretty easy to use. But, as you can see above, it also gave me far more errors than SwiftKey or Apple’s keyboard. I also found that it was increasingly difficult to swipe my fingers across the screen for longer passages (blame palm sweat).

Fleksy's iOS 8 keyboard

Above: Fleksy’s iOS 8 keyboard

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Fleksy

Fleksy’s mobile keyboard looks a bit different than the competition — it’s all capital letters, with plenty of room around them — and it also includes gestures for editing text. But it’s mostly known for scoring the Guinness World Record for fastest touchscreen keyboard earlier this year.

On the while, think of myself as one of those people who take a convenience-sake view of prevailing world conditions, events, existence in general. Not that in such a blade, cblvenience-sake sort of guy–although I do have tensor cues in that direction–but because more often than not I’ve observed that convenient approximations bring you closest to comprehending the true nature of things.

Oh, where to start. Fleksy was the most error-prone keyboard I tested, but that could also be due to my inexperience with it. Fleksy didn’t correct some obvious errors, like “cblvenience,” and its autocorrect functionality seemed slower than the competition. I know plenty of people who swear by Fleksy though, so it’s likely to perform better if you put in some time with it.

Verdict: Choice is grand

It’s hard to proclaim a champion from my short testing, but one thing I noticed is that each of these keyboards could appeal to different people. And ultimately, that’s the best thing about Apple’s more open stance with developers. Choice is a very good thing.

But in the process of giving developers more leeway, Apple has also significantly improved its own iOS keyboard. That likely won’t get as much publicity as shiny new third-party keyboards, but it’s welcome all the same.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile app analytics. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we’ll share the data with you.

Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t… read more »

Swype ™ provides a faster and easier way to input text on any screen. With one continuous motion across the screen keyboard, the patented technology enables users to input words faster and easier than other data input methods. The ap… read more »

SwiftKey works alongside leading technology manufacturers, mobile operators and software developers to bring customers the highest standards in language technology. Its consumer product, the Android app SwiftKey, has been downloaded mo… read more »

Fleksy is an input method for touchscreen devices which offers a traditional tap typing interface coupled with some gestures for common functions such as space, delete and word correction. It uses error-correcting algorithms that take … read more »








This article originally appeared on VentureBeat Read More

{ 0 comments }

For informal group decisions via Web surfing, there’s now TheResearchBrowser

by Barry Levine on September 19, 2014

For informal group decisions via Web surfing, there’s now TheResearchBrowser
Image Credit: TheResearchBrowser

Ever try to plan a family vacation with distant relatives or friends? The logistics, with URLs hurtling through time zones and misunderstood hotel signoffs becoming fodder for Thanksgiving arguments, often rival D-Day’s.

Such use cases propelled two former Nokia Siemens consultants in Europe to develop TheResearchBrowser, made available this week in an iPad version. Windows PC, Mac, and other versions are in development.

The cloud-based browsing application is designed for multiple projects of organizing, sharing, and assessing Web-based research.

At the end of 2012, CEO and co-founder Andrew Sitterman and COO/co-founder Tom De Ruysser got a client request for a consulting project that needed what they described as “a massive amount of research.”

They never actually took that project, but the prospect of conducting that research led them to develop this self-funded effort. Sitterman is a self-described “Brit who lives in Berlin since the wall came down,” De Ruysser is based in Berlin and Rotterdam, and their ten developers are — literally — in Siberia.

Sitterman noted that bookmarks in a browser can work for some kinds of browsing, “But as soon as you want to mark stuff around the sites, it gets painful.”

The pair aren’t the only ones who have seen the need for browser-like joint efforts. Samepage, for instance, is oriented toward team collaboration. Diigo, a “personal knowledge management” multitool that includes notetaking and highlighting, is “great if you’re doing academic research,” Sitterman said.

Anyone dealing with a software issue and a modern help desk has encountered co-browsing, where an agent can remotely demonstrate or make a fix on your screen. There are even browsers designed for remote surfing parties where participants battle for control.

But TheResearchBrowser’s focus, as the name suggests, is on informal collaborative research. Like putting together with someone else a list of “books on Einstein’s works and availability on various second-hand websites,” the science-inclined Sitterman said.

Multiple projects can be maintained, pictures can be added, pages rated, comments written, collected items compared, and colleagues can be invited to join in. When one of the participants is looking at a webpage, there’s a link to that page in the browser’s chat.

Sitterman pointed out that TheResearchBrowser is not a full screen share; you only see content that other people are actively engaged with. You can share with the group, or just with individuals via chat. Private projects can stay private. Users can check in on recent activity while they’ve been away, and for backup, projects are stored in TheResearchBrowser’s cloud.

The startup intends to make money from relevant ads that are based on the last search and expects to offer a premium version sans ads.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile app analytics. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we’ll share the data with you.








This article originally appeared on VentureBeat Read More

{ 0 comments }