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back to article Meet the stealthiest UK startup's app Swiftkey - and its psychic* keyboard

If ever there was a company that found itself in the right place at the right time, it's TouchType - the team behind SwiftKey. The firm is one of Britain's most successful tech startups: it says its intellectual property is used in 100 million phones and that its SwiftKey software was last year's best-selling program in the …

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Re: Love Swiftkey

Same here. I'm typing with it now. Only problem is, I need to remember to proof read what I write. Sometimes SwiftKey tries to be too clever!

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Re: Love Swiftkey

So do I. With proper training, it feels like the bloody program reads in your mind. Almost scary.

My only gripe is about the two separate versions: phone and tablet. I'm sure there's no good technical reason for this. The same program could certainly handle both. It's more like a marketing trick to force people who have both a phone and a tablet to buy two licences.

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Will buy it

Currently on the trial version and have to say its so much better than the keyboard my S3 came with. Worth 2 quid!

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INteresting that something so *apparently* simple is still capable of improvement.

But for a phone application isn't voice recognition the obvious way to go?

Thumbs up for a UK company that seems to have just quietly gotten on with business.

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Black Helicopters

Re: INteresting that something so *apparently* simple is still capable of improvement.

Voice recognition is the obvious but not so easy way to go.

I'm mystified as to why voice recognition hasn't become the de facto standard. I hear a lot of faffing about by the men in white coats about voice being very difficult to interpret into words, but I'm pretty sure if money wasn't involved we'd have voice recognition systems far superior to the nonsense we have been supplied with so far.

End message.

Now, where's my -- hey, I said END MESSAGE.

WTF? No, I do not want to you to massage my arse, END MESSAGE!

Oh for crying out loud, I'll have to get my finger out...

>click!<

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Re: INteresting that something so *apparently* simple is still capable of improvement.

Do you really want to be stuck in a crowded place hearing everyone's banal texts out loud?

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Re: INteresting that something so *apparently* simple is still capable of improvement.

I still find talking to inanimate objects somewhat uncomfortable. On the very rare occasions that I've needed to make a call when driving I've prodded the appropriate button on the steering wheel and announced "Call <whoever>" and it does work (and keeps my hands on the car controls). Still don't like it though.

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Re: INteresting that something so *apparently* simple is still capable of improvement.

Nope, voice recognition is hard because most people speak like idiots, slur words, um ah, and there is a lot of intuited context about the words such as taking the meaning from 'I scream', 'Ice cream' or 'Eyes cream'.

People think voice is easy as even the stupidest person can use voice. The reason it works is because you have a brain doing an immense amount of tricky processing getting it to work. Thats why voice, for the foreseeable future, will only ever have marginal improvement. No-one's come up with new tech in voice recognition for 20+ years, just improved CPUs mean they handle the search space better.

Direct text is a lot easier but still really difficult and it sounds like these guys have done a cracking job.

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Megaphone

Re: INteresting that something so *apparently* simple is still capable of improvement.

The very reason I'll never use any voice recognition system. My car has it, as do my Android phone and tablet - never used it on either.

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Re: INteresting that something so *apparently* simple is still capable of improvement.

"People think voice is easy as even the stupidest person can use voice. The reason it works is because you have a brain doing an immense amount of tricky processing getting it to work."

For an estimate of just how much processing is involved, consider the fate of the novice language student who can understand the teacher (talking slowly and deliberately) but is flummoxed when confronted with a native speaker. Also consider that most experts reckon it actually becomes harder to learn a second language if you leave it too late because most of that tricky processing is actually burned into hardware and if you wait until your teens or later then this option isn't available to you.

And, as you point out, that's just the easy problem of parsing the stream of sound. Actually understanding enough context to resolve ambiguities is Hard(tm).

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JDX
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90 staff

Blimey

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Re: 90 staff

Some in California too...

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On the one hand....

...I'm extremely impressed with its ability to predict what I'm going to type. On the other, I'm depressed that I'm *that* predictable.

The next version of Swiftkey will log into el Reg and make that comment on my behalf.

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Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 has a stock keyboard that operates in the same way (i.e. like swype, swiftkey, flextT9)

Anyone know if it's swype or something different?

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Re: Nexus 4

That's now in Android 4.2 for any device. It's not Swype - and after trying it for a bit, I went back to Swype.

A great thing about Swype is that you can press any word that's wrong and choose from alternatives, whilst the Android one only lets you do this for the last typed word (and typically I tend to type it all quick, then proof-read what I've written). (Anyone know if Swiftkey does this too?) Also I found that the guesses at what I'd swiped tended to be more accurate for Swype. A shame that Swype isn't in Google Play (not that downloading it elsewhere is a problem, but it's annoying to have to sign up with an email address, and it's in a perpetual beta state...)

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Brilliant!

Brilliant! When I installed it last year I was so surprised it knew about my home town, some backwater spit in Hertfordshire. Then after about 3 weeks of using it, it was almost as if it knew my mind when I started typing messages, obviously the algorithms they've got for scanning your language habits are pretty neat stuff!

I got a copy from Google when they had it on offer for 10p and so glad I did!

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Re: Brilliant!

yay you saved £1.39. Result.

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It gives the perfect excuse

..for all those malapropisms and weird interpolations of something that is obviously the wrong word.

People blaming predictive text (e.g. for my wife becoming "Heavier" in texts) can't get away with some things that show they just can't spell, but now completely the wrong word can happily be blamed on the soffits.

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Sod this...

In find auto-correction annoying and would rather have precise input in the first place.

"The Android development team had roots in devices with real physical QWERTY keyboards such as the Sidekick, and the very first Android device (the T-Mobile G1) had a physical keyboard, too. "

I think it's time we had a return to those roots. Unfortunately, device manufacturers, through their obsession with copying crApple, are no longer giving consumers this CHOICE. More devices like the Xperia Pro and Motorola Photon Q (in Europe!) please.

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Joke

Re: Sod this...

Would you like built in electrocution for when you mis-type something too?

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Re: Sod this...

Yup. Specifically I want a proper, landscape, slide out QWERTY - I dislike Blackberry-style keyboards almost as much as onscreen ones. I don't care if it makes the phone thicker, or heavier (in fact fuck it, stick a nice big battery in there while you're at it) I just want a decent hardware keyboard.

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Re: Sod this...

.... and the above was typed on my Nexus 7 where it decided to convert my first word, "I", to "In". QED.

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So it's just me then...?

I spent a lot of time removing the mis-anticipated next phrase, which was never what I was going to say, until I decided to get rid of the thing.

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"I am a beautiful person"

This is a lie, at least if judged on external appearance, but I'm good with that..

However, at least with version 3 and it's forerunners, if you installed afresh without any history, opened a dialogue box and hit space repeatedly, that is what would be typed.

Wonderful, huh.?

Kii Keyboard is, incidentally, also very good but doesn't (I think) have the ability to seed the Ngrams' with gmail, twitter and SMS sent messages.

Typed with my old clattery much abused desktop keyboard.

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Is it that much better than Swype?

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Holmes

SwiftKey vs Swype

Swype, as has been mentioned, has a better "flow" than SwiftKey, especially with double letters. It also allows for a smaller width keyboard, which is best for me, as I usually work in landscape on my tablet (less finger travel).

However, SwiftKey's predictive process is the best for next word/phrase. It's recording function works for more than a sentence at a time, which is what you are restricted to in Swype. Both recorders are fairly accurate.

SwiftKey has a temporary price reduction. I think I'll buy.

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Your chance to invest in touchtype

Touchtype is backed by venture capital: specifically Octopus Investments' "Titan" funds (who are paying me a chunky tax-free dividend next month from another successful investment).

They have an offer for subscription open right now: an opportunity to buy in to a share in Touchtype, along with about 50 other early-stage companies hoping for growth.

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Happy

Try Swipe it's free

http://www.swype.com/

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Trollface

I use similar app called Swype

and the number of Apple users who see me swyping ultrafast sentences and ask "is that available for my <insert apple device of choice>", to which I say "Sorry but Apple don't want anybody else to use a different keyboard other than their own - take it up with them, I'm sure they'll be very helpful"

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Re: I use similar app called Swype

Exactly... My Galaxy S2's default keyboard is Swype and it never failed to amaze iPhone users. I've switched to SwiftKey some months ago and am loving it.

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