Android users searching for a better keyboard can now buy SwiftKey, a word-prediction technology. This is good, because Swype will never be available that way. SwiftKey works by trying to guess what word the user is going to type next, a bit like Google Scribe, only useful. SwiftKey allows faster text entry for those who can …
This application has access to the following:
Your messages (read SMS or MMS)
Network communication (full Internet access)
Phone calls (read phone state and identity)
... Why, exactly? So many Android apps want to own your phone.
Needs permissions for -
Read messages - so it can read your inbox and train itself on the common sentence formations you use.
Network comms - to download the base language packs that contain the base sentence formations.
Phone state - no bloody idea, but a lot of apps ask for this in general.
Best 60p I've ever spent.
I would question the first two, especially 'Network communication' for a keyboard. It's paid for, so shouldn't have ads, meaning the connection is being used for snooping, whether that's just usage statistics or your password, who knows?
It could be using the connection to pick the next word, which would be fairly scary, and crap.
Maybe... it reads your text messages, sends them to a server which analyses them and gives the phone a key to put through an algorithm for picking your next words. (Yes I'm bored.)
The Phone calls permission isn't permission to make calls, only to detect when they come in/are made, that is needed, i.e. to auto-hide the keyboard so it doesn't cover the call controls.
Not sure about phone calls, but the SMS part is so that it can map all of your existing messages to pre-learn your typing style - and it works very well, in my experience.
I believe Network Communication privilege is related to using it as a keyboard for the browser, but I could be wrong.
Chances are, like the majority of apps, the developers haven't fine-tuned to the minimum of necessary privleges.
Phone calls (read phone state and identity)
...is a permission that any Android application implicitly requests if it targets an older version of the Android API (either pre-1.6 or pre-1.5, can't remember now). That's because it didn't used to be controlled by a permission in the older versions (you always had access no matter what).
Yes, it's alarming. I wonder if Android will ever support an optional permission system?
I've been using swiftkey for ages...
It's been in beta for months and many Android phone users use it. I like it a lot with a couple of caveats:
It sometimes seems to lag on my HTC Desire; especially when you're waiting for the keyboard to disappear when you're finished with it.
Takes up a lot of space when you are trying to type on the web.
It's default autocorrect (rather than auto suggest) is something I find deeply annoying.
Try the app called SlideIt. This is similar to Swype, but you can actually get it in Android market.
I've been using SwiftKey for a couple of months now, and I'm more than happy to pay the current 60p asking price.
The new gestures (swipe right-to-left to delete word, etc.) are great.
I found SwiftKey much easier to get started with than Swype, and fast enough for my needs :)
I've been beta testing this since it was first released and it is impressive, learning the most common sequences of words you use so that sometimes you hardly haev to type at all.
60p from the Market - my first paid-for app!
so thats one company who doesnt like the fragmentation of android. I thought the whole POINT of android is that it wasnt going to get fragmented as much.
The best keyboard I have used
I can't recommend this highly enough. I have been using the Beta version for a month or so now and its great! Just swapped onto the paid version and its worth every penny. It's ability to learn from your input is very good too.
Tony W - Permissions
As just some examples many apps need to read your phone call state so that they know to mute or hide when there is an incoming call.
Swiftkey needs to read your sms messages so it can learn you sentence structures (it even tells you this and ASKS for the permission)
Internet connection could be for all sorts of things, verifying the beta validity etc, it should probably make this one clearer when used.
its a google hack
The 'read phone state' permission is most often the result of an evil compatibility hack Google added to apps targeting Android 1.5. This permission wasn't present earlier so they jam it into all apps declaring 1.5 support just in case. Microsoft quality thinking.
Used SwiftKey beta for quite a while but the amount of screen area it uses in landscape is just too much. Very fast though.
I don't understand Swype. Supporting a 'plethora' of phones? So they'd rather it carried on as it is then with the MANY people using it already on their unsupported phones without any issues and without handing over any money.
Both htc and motorola make their own keyboards, why would they buy swype?
Wonder what will happen to the beta testers when the beta ends and it time expires like all the beta versions have. :(
You just google for and install the .apk like N1 users do currently....... I guess they make enough cash from OEM deals not to bother with a few 10Ks from the various Android Apps stores.
Seems like easy money to me, but maybe end-user support is just too much hassle compared to big cheques offa manufacturers.
It has excellent prediction/correction and asks for ONLY "read user defined dictionary" permission.
It's the only keyboard app I've found to play well with the hardware keyboard on my Droid, where it still provides prediction/correction.
Plus it has cursor movement keys, for when you can't tap exactly where you want to put the cursor, which is pretty much all the time for me.
Oh yeah, plus it's FREE.
Just like swype. It's pretty good, but not quite as good as others. Only one still available though on the market though unfortunately.
If you want a keyboard that is like Swype... use swype
Just get on the beta for Swype. Despite what the article suggests, it is proving absolutely flawless for me. On the 3rd beta version i've used on my nexus now and the similar keyboard systems don't come close. for 60p though I'll give this one a go as well.
There will always be people who look at the permissions list and go WTF?? Think about it though - it's a keyboard. If they want to they can track every keypress you make. If you don't trust the people producing it then don't use it. Better still, blow the dust of your old Nokia 3210 and stay away from scary smart phones.
I hate those auto-completions
As someone who uses technical languages as well as foreign languages, the damn auto complete is something that needs a DESELECT option.
Swype is a very effective application otherwise, though.
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