Appening 4 – SwiftKey on iOS

(Originally posted 2014-05-03.)

Sometimes I’m in the mood to carefully peck at the text and sometimes I’m in the mood to just “splurge write”. And sometimes a bit of both.

This post is a case in point: I just want to get the words out as fast as I can.

Now, I do quite a bit of writing on iOS as it lets me write wherever and whenever I get the chance. I like its prediction and correction capabilities. But the app I want to talk about in this post takes that a good deal further.

It’s SwiftKey – available on iPhone and iPad alike.

You type and it presents three alternative words to choose from, as shown below.

Of course I chose the middle one.

It often predicts the words before you complete typing a word and sometimes you don’t even have to tap a word for it to be chosen.[1]

In my experience the accuracy of prediction is high, especially if you let it read your Evernote account to glean your writing style. It also learns from what you type in the app: So, in the example in the screenshot it has learnt that the word “choose” is often followed by “from”.[2]

I find whether I use a Bluetooth or an on-screen keyboard I can type much faster – which is a good thing as my brain often overruns my ability to type.

SwiftKey doesn’t understand (Multi)Markdown so it’s not much use for formatting. But recall one of the strengths of MultiMarkdown is the lack of formatting commands when writing paragraphs. Markup can often wait.

Unfortunately you can’t use SwiftKey as the standard text entry subsystem for apps in general. So I find myself cutting and pasting the text into other apps, such as Editorial. This is only a minor pain in fact: I’m still getting ideas down very fast. But it would be nice if Apple allowed customer data input mechanisms.

In fact you can use SwiftKey as a fast test entry mechanism for Evernote as it can save notes directly into Evernote. In fact I don’t do that: Most of my Evernote notes come from elsewhere (and have a good deal more structure.) Perhaps I’ll write about that one day.

So this is the fourth in a series about apps I use. The previous one was Appening 3 – Editorial on iOS. My reviews aren’t as comprehensive as many you’ll find on the web but they are more insights into how I use stuff than formal reviews. Of course this isn’t an official IBM endorsement of SwiftKey: I’m just telling you about a tool I use and what I think about it.

  1. This is the case if the middle choice (in white) is the one you want.  ↩

  2. SwiftKey doesn’t transfer its learning from one machine to another (for example via Dropbox) but I haven’t noticed this to be a problem – even though I use multiple iOS devices for authoring.  ↩

Published by Martin Packer

I'm a mainframe performance guy and have been for the past 35 years. But I play with lots of other technologies as well.

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