SwiftKey's new predictive keyboard for Android makes a big leap forward by eliminating the need to use the spacebar.
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The increasing popularity of touch-based smartphones means better software for their on-screen QWERTY keyboards is needed more than ever. One company, SwiftKey, has just released a third beta version of its software keyboard for the Android platform. Here's what the new software does.
The most important new feature is called Smart Space. As this article's headline suggests, this new functionality takes auto-correction to the next level. Smart Space can detect, in real time, mistyped or omitted spaces across whole phrases of poorly typed text.
I tested it, and it's really cool. Essentially, you can type an entire sentence without touching the spacebar. When you reach the end of the sentence, that's when you hit the spacebar, and the software auto-magically puts spaces right where they should be. The bottom line? Fewer key presses when you type messages.
Other additions to the new beta include two new themes. One, called Holo, brings Android 4.0's theme to the look and feel of SwiftKey.
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The application's user interface has also been updated. SwiftKey says there is a larger spacebar (even though you don't really need to use it), and smarter punctuation keys are faster to access and easier to type because they are bigger. SwiftKey says the new punctuation keys are intelligent and language-specific, so you can use punctuation in alternate languages.
Speaking of languages, SwiftKey 3 adds support for seven new languages: Korean, Estonian, Farsi, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Serbian. This makes the keyboard compatible with a total of 42 languages.
SwiftKey 3 also includes improvements such as backup of learned language data and improved options for users to customize auto-correction features.
SwiftKey's big competitor, at least as far as Android is concerned, is Swype, which has a bit of a leg up on SwiftKey in that it is widely distributed on new handsets out of the box. Swype is also beta software, which is now owned by Nuance Communications. It works fairly well, but SwiftKey has been adding features faster than Swype has in recent months.
SwiftKey 3 Beta, which works on smartphones and tablets, is available only through the SwiftKey VIP community. SwiftKey says that new members are welcome to join the VIP community now for a limited time only at SwiftKey.
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