SwiftKey goes free for all

  • AFP
  • Updated: Jun 11, 2014 17:30 IST

One of the best third-party keyboards for Android smartphones and tablets has dropped its premium $3.99 fee.

The company says that the move is to help the app reach millions of new users and, in order to make it up to those that have already bought and installed the app, SwiftKey will be offering them a free premier pack of keyboard themes and features worth $4.99.

What made the app such a success when it launched in 2010 is firstly its ease of use -- you can drag a finger across keys rather than having to hit each virtual letter individually -- and secondly its contextual smarts. It is very quick at learning a person’s writing style and therefore catching their typos and spelling mistakes. It’s even pretty good at guessing what the next word in a sentence is going to be and offering it up before it’s typed.

In fact, it’s so good that for years, iPhone and iPad owners have been complaining that the app wasn’t allowed on iOS. Apple doesn’t permit third-party keyboards, believing that they reduce, rather than improve the user experience.

However, even it has seen the light and one of the biggest updates in iOS 8, the next version of Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating system, launching later this year, is support for SwiftKey. And, of course, SwiftKey’s iPhone app is already finished and waiting to launch.

As well as a smarter keyboard, SwiftKey also offers users themes, stickers and a host of emojis to download and install and this is where the company now plans to earn its revenues, by selling them as in-app purchases and add-ons.

SwiftKey co-founder and CEO Jon Reynolds said: “This is the start of an incredibly exciting phase for us as a business. We have made the decision to go free to better enable everyone, everywhere, to use SwiftKey’s market-leading technology without payment being a barrier. We're focused not only on reaching more users with our powerful technology, but on building great content and features to engage them.”

The keyboard currently supports predictive text and auto correction in 66 languages, the latest of which -- Belarusian, Mongolian, Tatar, Uzbek, and Welsh -- were added on Wednesday.

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