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SwiftKey Flow Beta now available for download, we go hands-on [VIDEO]

After weeks of teasing, I think it’d be safe to say that Android junkies everywhere are clamoring for the next release of SwiftKey, an app renown around the world for its almost scary, mind-reading prediction engine. For their latest release — now available for SwiftKey’s VIP members (don’t worry, it’s free to sign up) — the team is introducing a completely new feature dubbed SwiftKey Flow.

The “flow” part in SKF describes the new way of using swiping gestures (ala Swype) and when combined with SwiftKey’s already tried and true prediction engine, should make for a winning combination. As a long time Swype user, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve swiped the wrong word in Swype and thought how cool it’d be if they just had Swype’s prediction engine for better accuracy. Now, what really blew people’s minds is when SwiftKey leaked a little video showing off their all new “Flow Through Space” feature. Instead of swiping and lifting your finger between words, users can now simply swipe down to the spacebar and continue with the next word. Let’s see Swype do that.

Alright, so there’s no question that SwiftKey Flow is the company’s answer to Swype — this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a newcomer try and dethrone the swiping king. But does SwiftKey Flow really have what it takes when it comes to real world usage? Well, we were lucky enough to snag an advanced of copy of the SwiftKey Beta and I have been using it as my primary input method for the past few days now. Here’s a quick hands-on video sharing my own experience with the keyboard replacement, specifically, SwiftKey’s all new swiping feature, including “Flow Through Space.” Keep in mind this is SwiftKey Flow Beta and while fully functional, is not the final release.

Flow

Okay, so as you can see from the video, the swiping gestures of Flow worked without a hitch, for the most part. There was, however, a little difficulty in getting Flow to recognize some words. Just everyday words like “it’s” and various words of the genital region were near impossible to accurately swipe out (guess that leaves sexting out of the picture). If you absolutely loath the idea of swiping with SwiftKey and feel like it taints the experience, no problem. The Flow feature can be turned off in the SwiftKey’s settings. Just pretend it never happened and be on your merry way.

Flow Through Space

While Flow was pretty solid in this early beta form, it’s “Flow Through Space” that was an almost completely broken experience. Stringing together very short sentences could work — but it was nowhere near consistent. In fact, the longer the sentence, the greater the chance SwiftKey would become confused and either incorrectly guess words, capitalize others, or give up altogether aborting the sentence completely. For instance, attempting to FTS with the sentence “It’s the best food in the world,” resulted in “Is The Best good in the world,” and “It hates me,” was interpreted as “Its batsman.” It was definitely fun to experimenting with, but I think overall it was simply too much for SwiftKey to handle. In fact, I suspect that it might even be Swift’s super advanced prediction engine causing confusion in Flow Through Space.

So while Flow Through Space is broken in its current state, this wouldn’t have been as big of an issue if SwiftKey simply allowed the user to revisit a flowed message, editing incorrect words by tapping and pulling up a list of possible predictions (like Swype). Instead, the cursor must be placed at the very end of each word, causing you to get frisky with your phone like you were in middle school. It’s this that makes swift corrections an impossible and grueling chore.

Verdict

SwiftKey Flow Phone Beta | SwiftKey Flow Tablet Beta

SwiftKey 3 on Google Play

Overall I’d say SwiftKey Flow is a worthy update to SwiftKey 3. Flow Through Space certainly isn’t the “Swype killer” many thought it’d be and turns out it needs to bake in SwiftKey’s ovens just a little longer. One area where SwiftKey still has a leg up over Swype is that SwiftKey is easily accessible and can be purchased securely from the Google Play Store. The best part? They aren’t even going to charge current customers who have already purchased previous versions of SwiftKey. A generous gesture, for sure. It’s for that reason I have no problem recommending Android users fork down their money to purchase SwiftKey, especially after seeing how far it’s come, and where it’s going.

 




  • ffolkes

    Sup Chris? Looks like we’re the only two people who were staying up for this release… :D

    • ScottColbert

      Nah I tweeted him I had downloaded it. Pretty sad, come to think of it.

      • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

        @ffolkes:disqus @ScottColbert:disqus

        Man.. we’re just a bunch of nerds, aren’t we? :P

        • ScottColbert

          lol, story of my life. You’re spot on about flow through-it either wouldn’t space or made some bizarre word combo.

  • Don_SoLow

    Aww I don’t get to be the guy who says “First”…. :(

  • ffolkes

    I tried “it hates me” and it guessed “it bagels”. This IME shall provide me amusement.

  • tharealoc

    I’ve been playing with this keyboard for about 20 minutes now, works pretty well, definitely better than the swype keyboard preinstalled on my droid razr. I have come across one issue though, it doesnt seem to work in the play store. When i go to search, the swiping function seems to be disabled. Can anyone confirm this is not just me? thanks

    edit: it seems that the voice type button built into the keyboard doesnt activate voice typing in the play store either…

    • AndyH_STi

      Certain text input fields don’t seem to accept swipe input when using SwiftKey Flow, I noticed the same issue in the “To” field when creating a new email in the Gmail app. I too have the same issue with the voice typing in the search bar in the Play store. Sometimes it starts to activate voice typing as I hear the beep and see the screen start to appear, but then it disappears. Swype Beta doesn’t have this issue. Of course you can always just press the microphone button in the search bar in the Play Store to activate voice search, this works even with SwiftKey Flow enabled as my default keyboard.

      So yes, they have a few bugs to work out…but that is the nature of a beta release.

  • crankyd00d

    Hey Chris I’m curious about something, what apps are those you are using that have your notification bar so full haha

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Equalizer. T-Mobile WiFi Calling. Smart WiFi Toggler. Then of course Samsung’s TouchWiz toggles which leaves me with 2 notifications to display before I have to start scrolling -_-

  • http://twitter.com/trathkopf Ted Rathkopf

    Is there anyway to Flow in landscape mode on a Nexus 7? When I go to landscape, I have the option of a split keyboard for thumb typing, or a regular keyboard, but I flow doesn’t work.

  • Piyush

    IT IS TITS… LOL

  • PhilNelwyn

    Yeah, your video shows that some work needs to be done before this is as good as Swype.
    And Flow through space is completely pointless IMO. Why wouldn’t I lift my finger? Auto-spacing is faster.

    I hope this gets better quickly though, because I often switch languages and since last update Swype’s been lagging a lot doing that. I sometimes have to wait up to 4 seconds before I can start swiping again… the stock 4.2 keyboard is faster at that, but frustratingly slower at punctuation and editing.

  • wickets

    besides the flow part did they do any other upgrading on the app? thanks

  • Michael Thompson

    Cool review.
    Thanks Chris!

  • Jim

    Wish I would have gotten the email already. Been getting frustrated with Swype lately & been waiting to try this.

  • theOnlyBenReese

    The flow, through space is working perfectly for me. I’m using to type this and having very little trouble at all. Much faster for me than Swype, and I have always preferred the Swiftkey layout. I am so happy to have this beta version!!

  • Michael Venetiaan

    Can you say ‘AWESOME’ !!
    I wasn’t allowing myself to get too hyped about this since I live in the Netherlands.
    When Google came out with it’s “swype” keyboard ofcourse it didn’t work in my language (like with all new google stuff).
    But Swiftkey Flow functions better than I could’ve ever dreamt !!

    And this is Beta?! … Wow… just wow.

  • dg61981

    I’ve only been using flow for about 10 minutes. Using it to type this message a matter of fact. My verdict, it’s awesome. The fts feature needs a lot of work. I also like the look of the actual “flow” itself. Swype just looks tired. I’m a swype user so I can say that. Bottom line, gesture typing is pretty much the only way I can type because of my giant fingers and SKF is the way I’m gonna be doing it.

  • Joshhud

    I downloaded it this morning and I’m not a huge fan. I know it’s still in beta but Swype is much more accurate. I was going it would have the numbers above the letters which it does not do that was a little disappointing. I have been using the Samsung version of swift key also. While that does have the numbers above it again is no where near as accurate as Swype…so back to Swype I go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AGx07 Chris Brown-Demoreno

    So far, I love it. I’ve had a few prediction problems with Flow but overall its pretty good. My main problem is that the Flow is a lot like TouchPal’s Curve, the “swype like typing” isn’t nearly as accurate as Swype but with such a powerful prediction engine, SwiftKey comes out on type.

    Another issue I have is that it feels gimmicky for most words. As SwiftKey’s prediction usually gets the words I need within 4 keystrokes, swiping just takes longer. That’s not to say its without its uses because I much prefer to use one hand to two in most cases so I’ve always made use of Swype.

    Feature wise, Swype is a clear winner. You can swipe to “select all”, “cut”, and “paste”. I’d love to see that here. Flow also appears to remove the “swipe to delete” feature of old version of SwiftKey. I miss that.

    I’d still give this a 5* easy. They need to work on the accuracy a bit and I’ll be a happy man. Any Swype features they can steal would be nice too =)

    • ryoohki360

      It work very well, the 4.2 version of it was ok but not very good in French, this one works perfectly in both language

      • ryoohki360

        Oh also i love this software because it’s big thumb friendly Lollllllllllll, the original keyboard buttons are way smaller and difficult to press for me

  • DavidEvans32

    I was so pumped when I woke up to the beta email! Flow is awesome, takes a little getting used to, but it’s awesome none the less!

  • http://twitter.com/Defenestratus Defenestratus

    hrm.

    I have never been a fan of swiftkey. Its predictions never made sense to me and now I feel that this update isn’t all that great. Swype definitely swypes better. The stock keyboard is faster than them both…

    Not seeing much of a reason to change at the moment.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    My complaint is that in some fields like for email, password, etc there is no swiping ability, which really me puts off. Swype works great for me, but it’s normal typing isn’t so great so was hoping SwiftKey Flow would be a good combo, but for now it’s nowhere near. :/

  • Alankrut Patel

    JEDI MIND TRICKS!?!? Gimmeee

  • Unorthodox

    Flow Through, Space Out

  • bvoak

    Ok…coming from Swype, this thing ain’t so great. For example, I swipe “cat” and it inserts “cast”. In Swype, if this had happened there would be several different options to choose from and I would have just tapped on “cat”. Since Swiftkey is all about prediction, it’s already giving me predictions for my next word, not options for “cast”! Very odd, and really annoying. The only way I could figure to change “cast” to “cat” was to fat-finger delete cast and fat-finger input cat. If I’m doing something wrong, please give me a heads up. I really don’t need my keyboard to predict what I’m typing. I need it to figure out what I just typed and give me options if needed.

    • Micha Ols

      Yep, I find it less accurate than Swype. And with multi language input it gets confused even more.

      • bvoak

        Oh well…back to Swype! It has been working quite well since the latest update that fixed the Google Maps crash issue (on HTC devices, at least). My last remaining gripe with Swype is that it won’t auto space when typing a search in Google. Small issue compared to the ones I’ve found in Flow within ten minutes of use!

    • http://www.harddrivehousecalls.com/ GadgetMomma

      Actually, I found that if you back up to the word you want to change, it will then give you words that are similar to choose from. I also enable the arrows, and I like them as well…

  • DavidVarghese

    Hey Chris, does it have problems with apostrophes in general or sentences with “it’s?”

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      It tends to figure out them for the most part. Even it’s works well if you’re using it within a sentence, just not the first word in a sentence for some weird reason.

  • Tommy Thompson

    Its batsman!

  • mikeclee

    I’m finding it hard to type words like “three” How do I make a circle motion around the E like Swype to emphasis a repeat letter? Also, how do I capitalize a letter while “Flowing”?

    Also having trouble typing “it’s” and other possessive words.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AGx07 Chris Brown-Demoreno

      I’m finding some weird things too. Like trying to swipe out the word “Last” I keep getting “Lady” unless I purposely go around letters to ensure “Lady” isn’t even an option. This was one area where Swype excelled. In the event something like this happened, you had a one touch correction (because it displays several possibilities). I like how SwiftKey displays the word as you swipe but perhaps thats not the best route to take.

  • kc

    When trying to type a date, lets say 7th December, using swiftkey flow, it always comes as 7 th with a space between 7 and th. If you try typing it the usual way, it’ll come as 7th.
    Overall loving flow, makes typing with one hand easier at times and combined with swiftkey’s prediction algorithm, flow performs much better than what i expected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roscoenw Roscoe N. White

    The Beta isn’t that bad. The Flow feature is pretty smooth. Will be using this exclusively for the next few days.

  • Micha Ols

    Well I hope this BETA gets some work on the sliding prediction. It is way less accurate than Swype in guessing what I have swiped. Also the multiple language input does not go very well with the swiping.

  • Pkmmte

    I was very excited when I downloaded SwiftKey Flow and the installation process was easy.

    Just one problem… the “Flow” part doesn’t work for me. =/
    I tried landscape, portrait, many different apps to type on, and nothing worked. >.<

  • mkl99

    Doesn’t work in URL fields whereas Swype does

  • http://twitter.com/Cacaman27 Larry

    What SMS app is is that you have shortcuts to hashtags and @?

  • Moosejaw

    Has anyone compared this to Slide-IT? This too uses swipe sure input and the voice recognition is great. But I would like to hear from those who have used both please.

  • JonANDROID

    The first attempt failed, I was typing probando (testing) and put something else, is cool I don’t have to switch from English to Spanish or viceversa cause it does automatically, just type and good to go and another thing is the auto–space I definitely DON’T like it, I use a lot of commas (,) so, every time I need to use it I have to press the backspace button to add the comma, is understandable that is on beta, but needs a little more improvement. That’s my opinion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1665067341 Wayne Powell

    I like it so far. A few issues but minor for my experience. It should get better as it learns your style. I checked the option to read outgoing texts and i have little issues with it. I also agree that it is kind of a pain to backtrack to put in a comma or something like that but it really isn’t a deal breaker. Solid effort in my opinion.

    • jeff ward

      FYI, you don’t have to backspace before entering punctuation. Even though it auto-spaces after you type the word, if you just type a comma or period, it is smart enough to know that it should go at the end of the last word you typed! =)

  • Marsg

    Not bad, works good

  • http://www.harddrivehousecalls.com/ GadgetMomma

    I fell in love with Swype on my Galaxy S. Then I had the RAZR and it wasn’t as good (from what I understand it wasn’t true Swype). The keyboard that came on my S3 was better, but not as good as the original IMO. So many people here love SwiftKey, so I thought I’d give it a try–didn’t care for it–too much of a “tracer” girl. But this SwiftKey Flow–I LOVE! I especially like the number keys are all on the left when you go to the alternate screen. The prediction is getting better the more I use it. It’s seems much faster and more accurate. For those that are having issues–tweak with the settings. I found enabling the arrows to be very helpful. Thanks for the heads up on this Chris Chavez!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004071788282 Ravi Shah

    Great review! To be honest it still has a long way to go to dethrone Swype in that department. The new Swype beta has pretty much been my daily driver (after being on swiftkey for a year) and though I switch back and forth between the two from time to time, i alway find myself coming back to Swype. Also, IMO, i think that the Dragon voice recognition is way better and Google built in version. The only think i wish the Dragon voice recognition did similar to
    Google’s is showing the text while your speaking, but you can’t get everything…

  • dg61981

    Has anyone else noticed that when you try to search for a video in the YouTube app or the Wikipedia app, the flow feature doesn’t work? Or at least not for me anyways.

  • WadeDogg

    its not ready yet. needs work. it needs to have multiple swiped word possibilities like the original swipe has. if you swipe a word with flow and its not the word you want you have to delete that word and trying swiping it again.

    a simple thing to fix really.