After being in a beta stage for a number of months, SwiftKey 4 has finally arrived on the Google Play Store. The most exciting feature in the updated keyboard is Flow, a gesture way of typing very similar to Swype.
SnapKeys SI is yet another unique take on the standard qwerty keyboard on mobile devices. Rather than a full keyboard, SnapKeys uses four carefully arranged buttons with the most used letters inside. When the user wants any other letter, they simply tab in the middle of the screen, and just like SwiftKey, the keyboard guesses what you were trying to type.
SwiftKey is an extremely accurate keyboard for Android which predicts what you are about to say and attempts to continue the sentence you are writing through a number of possible answers at the top of the keyboard. The latest SwiftKey release tries to combine the extreme ease of use of previous versions with the swiping style of Swype and the official Android 4.2 keyboard. The result is SwiftKey Flow, possibly the fastest and most accurate keyboard which has ever been available on Android, and the beta is available to download right now.
Bluetooth keyboards for iDevices cost quite a bit, meaning you will often struggle to find a reliable one for under £30. The Freedom Expression keyboard costs just under £40, which is a high price tag, but is it worth it?
There are certain aspects of the Freedom Expression keyboard that are lacking. For example, the design is quite boring when you compare it to the competition. For the past few months I have been using a Logitech keyboard with my iPad, which looks very simple but stylish. On the FE keyboard, the keys are very close together and there is a large space at the top which doesn’t host any buttons, but is there anyway.
Another place where the keyboard is lacking, is in key features. It lacks a built in stand which can be a turn off for a lot of people. However many cases at the moment come with a fold out stand, so Freedom’s decision to not include a stand can be a good one to those who already have a case that they like.
The keys are close together, in fact they are almost touching. Some people may be used to this, I have a Packard Bell Easynote laptop which has keys which are very close together, so I am very used to this. However if you have been using something like a Macbook, which has keys far apart, this might not be for you.
The battery life is very good, offering up to 300 hours of use in one charge. I haven’t used it for this long, but after almost three weeks of regular use, I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the battery life is falling.
The Freedom Expression Ultra Slim keyboard isn’t without it’s downsides, however none of them are deal breakers. As with most keyboards, your decision to buy it should be based on the typing style you should already know you have. People who are used to keys that are close together will love this keyboard, as it’s exactly what they are used to. However people who are more suited to keys that are far apart might take some time adjusting to the new layout. Overall, it’s a very solid keyboard for the price. There is no nonsense in the design, just a simple keyboard which offers a very large battery life so you can always trust it to work for you when you need it most.
This week Logitech revealed it’s new washable keyboard, so that people can safely eat at their computer without the worry of getting the keys sticky.
A port of the Android Jelly Bean Keyboard is available in the Google Play Store right now.
The company who have brought us this keyboard is Beansoft, the same company behind the ICS Browser + and Thumb Keyboard, both relatively popular apps in the Android community.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the new Jelly Bean keyboard is very similar to SwiftKey. This version of the keyboard is still an alpha port, so be prepared for any glitches.
Wednesday marked the first day of Google I/O 2012, and the announcement of Android Jelly Bean, version 4.1 of the Android operating system.
Being 4.1 rather than 5.0, many people (including myself) expected Android Jelly Bean to only be a slight upgrade to it’s previous version. We knew that their would be slight changes to the UI, having seen blurry pictures of a white/grey search bar, however as far as new features go we were completely left in the dark. Google really did a pretty great job of hiding their new features.
Below is a small rundown of the Android enhancements coming in Jelly Bean.
Android Jelly Bean is faster and smoother than any other Android version. By boosting CPU and other technology mumbo jumbo, 4.1 has graphics, animations and transitions which are buttery smooth. See the connection?
Before iOS 5, iPads and iPhones had a very poor notification system. That’s why they decided to use a drop down notification system, with no care in the world that it was a blatant copy of Google’s idea, used since the first Android phone, the G1. So, Google need a new notification update to blow Apple out of the water, and they have done just that.
Android Jelly Bean has an updated notification drop down menu which lets you interact with the notifications without even opening the dedicated applications. The windows are bigger, meaning if you have an alarm, you can snooze or disable it right from the drop down. If you’re late for a meeting, you can e-mail all of the attendees informing them, directly from notifications.
All this, and it looks incredible.
According to the Android website, ‘Widgets work like magic’. This is quite an overstatement, in fact it seems like something Steve Jobs would say about the iPad. But the new widget system is pretty cool. Now, instead of having to make sure you have enough space on a home screen before moving a widget, you can just go ahead and drag it there. The icons that you have on that current page will move around so that you can fit the widget there, and if there isn’t enough space, it will make the widget smaller.
Camera and Gallery
Android Jelly Bean brings the same speedy update to the gallery, that Ice Cream Sandwich brought to taking photos. Now, after taking a very speedy snap, you can view the recently taken photos by swiping to the side. From here, you can edit the photo as well as share it via e-mail, social networks, messaging, bluetooth etc.
Poor SwiftKey. Just a matter of days after releasing the public version of SwiftKey 3, Google announce that their new default keyboard will feature similar abilities. One of the best features in SwiftKey is the prediction system, which basically guesses the rest of your sentence after you have typed the first word. Now, Android Jelly Bean has this as the default feature. Awesome for beginners who aren’t aware of other keyboards, but it’s probably bad news for SwiftKey.
Google Search, Voice
Android Jelly Bean sees a complete overhaul to how Google wants it’s users to search for content and information. Search has always been one of the primary features of Android since the very beginning, and it’s always done it very well. However, being several years since the last revolutionary update, Google have addressed this in Jelly Bean. Search is now done in the same way as it has always been done, tapping the microphone icon on the search bar and now dragging up the app drawer icon.
Google Search is now a true competitor to Siri. It’s done with cards of information. You ask it something, it responds (astonishingly quickly) with the information you need in the form of a card. Be it weather, sports, film times, news, information about random topics, Google will show you the information you need very fast.
Google now even predicts what you are going to do. For example if you follow the same route to a destination at a certain time or day each week. Eventually Jelly Bean will set a reminder for you automatically, as well as give you a route and get traffic reports.
What are your opinions of Android Jelly Bean? Personally I think it’s an incredible update, especially when compared to the very underwhelming iOS 6 update. Google’s new update make everything look better, and much easier to use., while still using the amazing holo theme that i’m sure nobody is tired of yet.
This is without a doubt, the best keyboard case for the iPad I have ever seen.
The SKINNY is the thinnest case ever to be released for the iPad which incorporates a keyboard, which in this case, is a touch sensitive one. Not only is it brilliant as far as statistics go, but in design.
Available in Black or White, the SKINNY case is available here for $90 (UK customers can e-mail for inquiries). I’d personally advise you get the white, as the combination with the keyboard looks fantastic.
The default on-screen keyboard on the iPad serves it’s purpose well. It’s big enough to be able to see the keys clearly, and small enough that it doesn’t take up too much of the screen. It’s responsive, and all the keys are in a familiar qwerty layout for ease of use. But it could be better.
This video appeared on YouTube earlier this week, and it demonstrates a very simple tweak that could be made to the iPad keyboard which would greatly improve it.
The concept is that the user is able to control the cursor by simply dragging fingers across the keyboard. And then you can simply highlight and delete text quickly by holding shift and dragging the finger across the screen to highlight, then tapping the back button to delete it all.
This is still just a concept, and the video tells us that if we want to see this become a reality, tell Apple. I hope they see this, but I also hope that the Jailbreaking community is already creating a keyboard tweak which imitates the vision.
Just as I said just hours ago, an imitation of the keyboard concept we see in the video has arrived on Cydia, available to download to anybody with a jailbroken device, for free. Search ‘SwipeSelection’ in Cydia to download!