iPhone and Android fanboys (and girls) love to go on and on about how one operating system is better than the other. But when it comes to keyboards, you have to give the upper hand to Android with all of its third-party options. That’s about to change, though — sort of.
Today, SwiftKey announced that it’s bringing its predictive keyboard to iOS through an app called SwiftKey Note. As the name suggests, SwiftKey Note is a note-taking app, and I’ve been using a test version of it for the past week or so. It has a very minimalist interface and is rather simple in nature, though you can sync notes to your Evernote account.
But this isn’t about SwiftKey getting into the note-taking app business. Rather, it’s about bringing its keyboard to other platforms, and it has been eyeing iOS for some time.
For those of you who don’t know about SwiftKey, you might be wondering, “What’s so great about this keyboard?” And the answer lies in its contextual intelligence abilities.
While many onscreen keyboards offer predictive typing to auto-complete a word, SwiftKey can predict what you’ll write next based on context. This is because SwiftKey was built to understand how people talk in regular conversation, and the more you use it, the smarter it gets. It can learn specific words that you use, even if they’re non-dictionary words. You can find some examples in my review of SwiftKey for Android.
The keyboard in SwiftKey Note will operate similarly to the Android version. As you start inputting text, a prediction bar appears above the keyboard with three suggestions of what you’re likely to type next. The idea is that you can save time by selecting entire words, rather than having to spell them all out.
SwiftKey Note can also scan your Evernote archives to better learn your vocabulary from the get-go. But the app will not offer SwiftKey Flow, which allows you to type words by dragging your finger letter to letter in one continuous motion. The company isn’t ruling out adding the feature in the future, but wanted to keep things relatively simple in the beginning.
“We didn’t want to freak anyone out with something that functions more like SwiftKey on Android, which is something we built very much for that platform,” said Joe Braidwood, CMO for SwiftKey. “We wanted to build around what Apple has built for users, so that they’re completely up to speed and familiar with what they see.”
But you won’t be seeing SwiftKey outside of the app, meaning you won’t be able to use it to compose text messages or emails on your iPhone or iPad. Apple has closed access to its core features, including its keyboard, to developers.
For now, Braidwood said, SwiftKey Note is a good way of illustrating what the company’s technology can do on iOS, and they’re completely open to working with other partners.
“It’s a great way for us to expand and bring our technologies to new horizons,” said Braidwood. “Sometimes we have a real hard time explaining what we do to iPhone users who wouldn’t dream of buying another product, so it really opens that box of opportunity up.”
Another way the company is hoping to attract new users is by making the app free. SwiftKey Note is available now from the iTunes store and is compatible with devices running iOS 6 or later. Currently, the app supports English (U.S., U.K.), French, German, Italian and Spanish.