The tradition of ‘swiping’ on mobiles started with the Swype keyboard which offered innovative and completely different typing experience on our smartphones. It was sure to get some competitors and the one of them is Touchpal keyboard. Of course we’re not comparing two products from two different brands but if ‘Swype’ was good then ‘Touchpal’ is even better. It takes innovation, simplicity and the experience to a completely new level. And the great part is that it’s completely free on Android market.
Let’s see what it has to offer
The Touchpal keyboard doesn’t just have the ‘swipe’ based keyboard but it also has the regular alphanumeric and mini QWERTY keyboards. All the keyboard types are neat, compact yet thumb-able even on smaller screen. We tested it on 3.2” screen of HTC Explorer which is by today’s standards far smaller screen. Even though its USP is the swipe functionality it also offers few innovations on other two type of keyboards. But we’ll anyways start with its swipe keyboard.
How it looks
This is the default keyboard you get when you install Touchpal. It offers full QWERTY mode in both portrait and landscape modes. The top row of the keyboard has numbers along with letters while the letters in the row above the spacebar has few mostly used symbols with them. While it doesn’t look like many things are cramped up on a single key, the numbers and symbols are very small. The spacebar has the slider which activates or deactivates predictions. To quickly switch between languages you just need to tap on ‘EN’ key in the last row. If you think symbols and numbers on the QWERTY keyboard are not easily readable you can always switch to a page dedicated to them using the ‘symbols and numbers’ key which is situated right next to languages key. Tapping on it reveals three pages of symbols with the first one also having numbers on it. The second page has even more symbols, the ones you’d see on desktop boards and the third page has few smiles and shortcuts to quickly enter common words like ‘www.’ Or ‘http://’. You can access quick settings by tapping on the small ‘swipe/hand’ symbol.
How (well) it works
To type you just need to swipe on the keyboard, it’d read the path you’ve taken and then finally type the word on the screen. If it has more than one word then it’d show them as suggestions above the top row of the keyboard from where you can choose to the exact word. The accuracy of the Touchpa was decent enough we won’t say best but just decent. It recognized the exact word most of the time but still gave few suggestions. So if in case you want some another word other than the one the Touchpal recommended then you has the choice. To enter the numbers you just need to swipe upwards while to enter the symbols you need to swipe downwards on respective keys. The prediction suggests the next word you’d like to type even before you actually type. It does so by making a guess from the existing words of the sentence. So suppose if you want to type ‘how are you?’ and you’ve already typed ‘how are’ then it’d suggest ‘you’ before you start swiping for ‘you’. But the prediction wasn’t as accurate as swiping. The TouchPal keyboard also features correction and spelling check. And there’s auto-spacing too. The TouchPal keyboard has been optimized especially for western languages so it can be used with variety of languages but you’d still need to download specific language packs. It also has different forms like AZERTY or QWERTZ. The one more advantage it has that you can enable mixed languages input. That is it can input as well suggest words from the languages other than the preferred one.
Above the top row of the keyboard there’s a quick options panel from where you can change various setting. You can quickly turn off or turn on the trace method. Tapping on the ‘page-pencil’ button brings up a page which has various shortcuts like cut, copy etc. The TouchPal keyboard can also work as a writer for you. You can dictate and it’ll type it for you. It was very accurate even with Indian accent. But keep in mind that this feature requires active internet connection.
To change the keyboard type you just need to swipe across the screen. In QWERY mode with ‘swipe’ enable you should rather swipe on ‘shift’ or ‘backspace’ key. The other two types are just regular stuff. While none of them offers swipe you still get predictions with both. Users who like to use T9 input method on usual alphanumeric keyboards will find the same pleasure here too.
Well the Touchpal keyboard is the nice piece of the software and it’s sort of must have on your Android phone. We liked it for its speed and accuracy. It surely needs to be tweaked in some parts but nevertheless it works very well. We’ll definitely recommend this one to the every Android user out there who wants to ‘swipe’. And the best part is that it all comes for free so it’ll not hurt to test this one.