Type more efficiently on your tablet with SwiftKey Keyboard

Jack Wallen shows you why the SwiftKey Keyboard is one of the finest third-party keyboards available for the Android platform.

SwiftKey Keyboard

In a recent announcement, the third-party keyboard replacement called SwiftKey was made freemium. This means you can get one of the finest keyboards for Android for free and then pay for various types of add-ons. Why this matters is simple -- you can get more work done with a better keyboard, one that's easier to type with, offers better prediction, has better-sized keys, and much more. Add to that the ability to theme SwiftKey, and you have the makings of a must-have addition to your Android devices.

Swiftkey's feature set includes the following:

  • Cloud integration for better prediction (it uses your sent Gmail to learn your "style" of writing)
  • Split keyboards (perfect for tablet devices)
  • Resize and undock
  • Intelligent auto-correct
  • "Slide" typing
  • Themes
  • Fifty+ supported languages

But is SwiftKey the keyboard for you? Let's install it and find out.


The installation is very simple. Once you get beyond that, there's a trick to enabling SwiftKey. First, let's go through the steps to install SwiftKey on your Android device.

  1. Open the Google Play Store on the device
  2. Search for SwiftKey
  3. Locate and tap the entry by SwiftKey
  4. Tap Install
  5. Read the permissions listing
  6. If the permissions are acceptable, tap Accept

Once the installation is complete, it's time to enable the keyboard. This will vary slightly, depending on your device. I'll demonstrate on a Verizon-branded LG G Pad 8.3.

Here are the steps to enable SwiftKey:

  1. Locate and tap the SwiftKey icon in the app drawer
  2. When prompted, accept the EULA by tapping Accept
  3. In the resulting window (Figure A), tap Enable SwiftKey
    Figure A
    Figure A
  4. In the Language & input window (it will open for you), tap to enable SwiftKey (Figure B)
    Figure B
    Figure B
  5. Tap OK
  6. Back at the SwiftKey Setup window, tap Select SwiftKey
  7. Tap SwiftKey to select it as your keyboard (Figure C)
    Figure C
    Figure C
  8. Back at the SwiftKey Setup window, tap Get better predictions
  9. (Optional) Tap Sign in with Google
  10. Tap Yes to enable prediction personalization
  11. Tap Finish

SwiftKey is now ready to serve.

Splitting the keyboard

One of the best aspects of SwiftKey is the split keyboard that it offers. This makes working with a tablet exponentially easier. To split the keyboard, follow these steps:

  1. Open an application that uses the keyboard
  2. Bring up the keyboard for use
  3. Tap the SwiftKey logo between the [123] and the [,] keys
  4. From the resulting pop-up (Figure D), tap Thumb

Figure D

Figure D
This pop-up gains you access to all of the SwiftKey settings.

At this point, you should now be able to enjoy a keyboard perfectly suited for tablets (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E
The split keyboard in action.


SwiftKey now offers freemium features, including themes. There are both free themes and paid themes. To install a new theme, do the following:

  1. Open an application that uses the keyboard
  2. Bring up the keyboard for use
  3. Tap the SwiftKey logo between the [123] and the [,] keys
  4. Tap the Themes button in the pop-up
  5. Tap the SwiftKey Store button to install new themes or select from the currently installed themes
  6. If installing from the store, search the store for a theme and tap either the Free button or the price button (Figure F)
  7. Allow the theme to install

Figure F

Figure F
Installing themes from the SwiftKey Store.

SwiftKey Cloud

As I mentioned earlier, SwiftKey offers some amazing predictions, thanks to its cloud integration. You can personalize this with the help of Gmail, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and more. This personalization helps SwiftKey to better predict your writing style.

To integrate more cloud applications into SwiftKey, do the following:

  1. Open an application that uses the keyboard
  2. Bring up the keyboard for use
  3. Tap the SwiftKey logo between the [123] and the [,] keys
  4. Tap the Settings button
  5. Tap SwiftKey Cloud
  6. Tap Personalization
  7. Tap the cloud application/service you wish to integrate
  8. Tap to select an account (when prompted)
  9. If prompted, sign in to that service

Over time, SwiftKey will learn from your posts (sent mail, etc) to better predict your vocabulary, typing style, etc.

If you're looking for the best third-party replacement keyboard for your Android tablet (or smartphone), you can't go wrong with SwiftKey. The split keyboard alone is worth the price of admission (which is free... so, it's a no-brainer).

Do you use SwiftKey or another third-party keyboard on your Android smartphone or tablet? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....