What I Hated the Least Today 141/365: Swiping Keyboard

Exotic Czech Keyboard
Exotic Czech Keyboard

While I did discover the joys of swiping keyboard for mobile some time ago, it took me some digging around to figure out which one I want and how to set it up best. The idea of a swiping keyboard is that instead of pressing each key individually, you trace the keys you want in a swiping motion and the keyboard guesses what you’re trying to type. In my experience it’s not particularly accurate to start with, but once the keyboard learns your usual vocabulary, it gets smart enough. The benefit of the whole thing is of course that typing on mobile becomes faster and less annoying.

I was using the original Swype Keyboard for Android (for Apple here) for what seemed ages (in tech time), so I was surprised when the keyboard suddenly died on me, claiming that my trial period was over. As I refuse on principle to pay for apps—it’s not like I have nothing better to waste the money I don’t have on—I switched to what seems to be the second most common choice, the free Google Keyboard (apparently only available for Android at the moment).1 I don’t see any differences between the two in functionality, besides Swype being able to suggest emoticons for some words, which I think I can survive without.

My Google Keyboard was updated these days. Normally, updates tend to break things for me rather than improve them, but it wasn’t the case this time. It looks like the keyboard got a new option, which is to show key borders. I only came across this feature when I was reading through my favourite geek site and found a rave review of the key border feature. As I’m naturally suspicious, I certainly didn’t believe that it would make typing any better, but I tested it—and it does make a difference. I stand (auto)corrected. On a related theme, I found another article with tips for typing faster on iPhones, and most of them work on my Android too. I could be totally typing this on mobile (I’m not). 

Besides UK and US English, Google Keyboard most likely comes in your language—it even comes in Czech. I find it less accurate for Czech, which might be given the nature of the language. Czech uses a scary amount of diacritics that often affect a change in meaning, but when typing on mobile, no one bothers to use it (not to mention that old devices, like my mother’s phone, can’t display a text message sent with diacritics), so it would be a bit too hard on the keyboard to expect that it will guess the constellation of diacritics that you have on mind at the moment. When swiping in Czech, I use the keyboard for entertainment—and to relearn Czech, as the keyboard suggests an array of curious bookish words that are not part of my active vocabulary.

1 Update: Google Keyboard, under the name Gboard, was actually released for Apple a week ago. Back.

51 thoughts on “What I Hated the Least Today 141/365: Swiping Keyboard

  1. Well let me say you have a written very informed and entertaining post as always Mara about a subject I have no idea about…..so apart from that last statement I have nothing to add to this discussion. So I’ll add, enjoy your weekend as mine is soon to begin…..

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    1. Thank you for reading! Don’t feel pressed to read through boring posts though, it’s not like you don’t have anything better to do 😉 As this is part of my What I Hated the Least project, I figured I’d just write about what actually pleased me, whether it’s a popular topic or not. And maybe someone will get inspired to get themselves a new swiping keyboard 😉

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      1. You see there is a dilemma. How do I now what Might be boring until I read it? And being the polite person I am I would never say your post was boring, I would tend to go…..hmmm……that was ‘interesting Mara, I could see your enthusiasm for your topic but to me it’s all Czech.’

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    1. Yes, there is a range of options for Android swiping keyboards, I tried the two most popular ones and am happy enough with the Google Keyboard. Not perfect, but nothing is, and it actually helps.

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          1. Haha, I see 😀 And I’m sure you have a point. I’d save so much time if I didn’t have the urge to poke around in the settings of everything and try to improve the functionality of things.

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          1. Now that you mention it, try pressing and holding, let’s say, the letter A on your kindle. It’s likely that you will see a popup with several special characters with diacritics to choose from… I only know because in my language sometimes you simply have to use the diacritics to get your meaning across.

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  2. I still haven’t gotten around to trying the swipe thing. Just the other day, it was all over the web, that Google Keyboard now is available for the iPhone too. It’s fascinating to see how many Google apps one could have on ones iPhone nowadays. Gmail, Google Search, GMaps, GDrive (the list could go on) and now the keyboard.

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    1. I do recommend trying the swiping keyboard, whichever you choose. It sounds like it can’t make any big difference, but it’s working great for me. Thanks for pointing out the Gboard – I updated my post – I did try searching for it, but I was confused by the slightly different name. I think all things Google work on Android, or almost all, it didn’t occur to me that there might be a problem with iOS.

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      1. Oh, and on a totally unrelated note: We don’t have to worry about the hockey anymore … ~big grin~ … both Sweden and Czech Rep. are OUT of the tournament LOL

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        1. I know, right! I found myself surprisingly upset when I saw that CZ got beaten by the USA – of all countries. That’s humiliating.

          Didn’t Sweden play their last match against Canada? Not sure now…

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  3. I use a swipe keyboard on my kindle but not on my phone. I have stubby fingers and think I would make all sorts of errors if I tried it on a small scale. It’s annoying enough that the phone is always “correcting” my spellings by Anericanising them.

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    1. There is probably a setting on your phone where you can choose British English rather than American. I made my phone use British English as the system language and as the primary input language, as all tech things translated into Czech are a pain to use. But then I’m obsessed with the Settings button – I always poke around in things 😮 As often as not breaking them and then having to fix them.

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        1. That is annoying. I tried using the Microsoft version of Siri, called Cortana, on my laptop, but she has no clue. She doesn’t understand my accent. I wonder if it’s because my accent is so incomprehensible or because all things Microsoft suck 😮

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    1. Hahahaha 😀 Your comment is hilarious. You nailed it: it’s on the Czech keyboard that Y and Z cohabit. We have a Z where the English keyboard has an Y. Where the English keyboard has numbers, we have symbols with diacritics. There are also other differences, mostly in punctuation. I use both keyboards, and it’s the standard here to have Czech/English bilingual keyboards. That’s what you get in the shop, whether you want it or not.

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      1. Ah, I see… I knew about that being different – I think the American or Irish keyboard has the same difference. But then still you adapt to it and each letter stays in it’s own room. Never seen this before – I love it 😀 😀 😀

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