First off: I love SwiftKey.  For a couple of years, it was easily the best software keyboard I’d ever used on any phone, and its existence was a large part of the reason I stuck with Android.   Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and about two months ago, SwiftKey and I broke up.

Why? Well, I met someone else.  Specifically, I met Fleksy.  Now, obviously, one doesn’t go looking for something new unless they’re unhappy.  So why was I unhappy with SwiftKey?  One issue, but a major one: performance.

One area where I’m particularly picky when it comes to response time is with keyboards.  There’s absolutely no excuse for lag or stuttering when I’m trying to type – it ruins the rhythm of typing and makes the whole experience just feel “off”.   It wasn’t just typing itself, though – there was often a noticeable delay between when I wanted to start typing and SwiftKey would actually appear, and it also tended to linger around the screen after exiting whatever I’m doing.  Sometimes the delay would be for a couple of seconds in either case – and that’s just unacceptable.  I honestly think SwiftKey has just gotten too bloated for its own good and needs to be slimmed down – perhaps the developers make a “SwiftKey Lite” available for those of us who just want SwiftKey’s amazing autocorrection/prediction algorithm and nothing else.

I’ve tolerated with SwiftKey’s lag for the last year or so, though, simply because it’s so good at autocorrection and prediction.  Every time I tried something new, I’d end up going back, because even with the stuttering, I could type faster with it than I could with either the Sense or the stock Android keyboards.  Fleksy, however, finally lured me over with a combination of things:

  1. A gorgeous design with great animations.  Sure, that’s subjective and irrelevant functionality-wise, but it’s nice to enjoy using something that you literally have to use every day.
  2. Quick performance.  I’ve yet to feel the keyboard hesitate for even a moment – it’s as fast as the stock keyboard experience.
  3. Good – but not best-in-class – predictions.  SwiftKey is still the gold standard when it comes to autocorrect and predictions; it’s almost creepy how well it learns your typing habits.  I feel like that comes at a cost, though, given the “heavy” nature of the app.
  4. Gestures.  Not Swype-typing, mind you, but the Fleky-specific gestures you use to delete words and change suggestions/punctuation are truly awesome once you spend a few days and get the hang of them.  It makes up for the not-quite-as-good prediction engine if I can easily choose the correct word without ruining my typing rhythm.

That does, however, lead me into the one major downside of Fleksy – no gesture-typing.  If you’re a huge fan of Swype or similar functionality in SwiftKey or the AOSP keyboard, Fleksy is not for you.  For those of us who tap-type, though, this is the keyboard I’d personally recommend going forward, especially if you’re willing to put in a little bit of time to add words to your personal dictionary and learn the Fleksy-specific gestures.  I haven’t even touched on other areas of Fleksy, like the ability to resize the keyboard to fit your ideal height, or even to make it invisible entirely if you really trust your typing ability.

Software keyboards are among the most personal apps available; everyone’s going to have their favorite, and no one is “wrong” – people just do things differently, and we should be thrilled there are so many options available.  If you’re unsatisfied with some aspect of your current keyboard, give Fleksy a try for a week or; it’s free for a month, so there’s no immediate commitment.  On the other hand, if you’ve never tried SwiftKey, either, give that a shot, too!  You may be less picky than me, and it’s completely free now, so there’s really no reason not to.