Turbo-charge your typing with our guide to third-party apps

Lawrence Jones

Tuesday 25 November 2014

While the layout based on QWERTY has been the de facto standard since the Victorian times, in the world of mobile, nothing is sacred. Third-party developers are always keen to find innovative ways to shake thing up, and they’ve been busy creating a new wave of intuitive interfaces for mobile devices. We look at some of the best apps on the market.

Real-time learning

Swype is one of the most popular third-party keyboards. It uses the conventional QWERTY layout, but allows you to drag your finger between the letters to form words. Previously the world’s fastest mobile keyboard, the app boasts an engaging interface, great dictionary and impressive predictive capabilities.

SwiftKey, another big-hitter, offers users the ability to both type using the conventional keypad or swipe, giving you the best of both worlds.

It’s not just about how you use the keyboard; it’s also the fact that these apps ‘learn’. Each language has its own stylistic variation and is full of a rich variety of colloquialisms that US programmed keyboards often struggle with. In this sense, a keyboard that stores and recalls words and phrases can save time and avoid any potentially embarrassing word substitutions.

SwiftKey describes itself as a learning keyboard, and, while we’re not in the realms of artificial consciousness, watching the system predict words and phrases is impressive, with the programme perhaps being more nuanced than its competitors.

Intelligent design

If you want to move away from the conventional keyboard altogether, recognition keyboards like MyScript Stack use some advanced software that turns your scribbled typing into fully formed words.

If your grammar isn’t quite up to scratch, why not take a look at the Ginger Keyboard? It might sound a little like a boring teacher, but in a professional environment it can help avoid grammatical errors that can affect even the most fastidious user.

Sometimes though, the flashy features can be an impediment to what we’re really hankering after, and that’s speed. Fleksy is officially the world’s fastest keyboard – with the lags sometimes affecting others – and, with an increasingly reliable autocorrect system, what it lacks in finesse, it makes up for in sheer pace.

Personal choice

Given that most apps cost less than a cup of coffee, it’s worth experimenting and trying a few out before you decide on what really works for you. One thing to remember though is that the output is only as good as the input – so make sure you check your text before hitting send to avoid embarrassment and potential social media immortality…