Fleksy was my clear favourite out of all the keyboards that launched with iOS 8, but I decided to I give Swiftkey another shot on Tuesday. I thought it would be ergonomically sound to save as many keystrokes as possible, which would reduce the chance of repetitive stress injury. I actually hurt myself a few years ago while trying to force the issue of touch typing on my iPad 2 and I don’t want to repeat the mistake.
I can definitely see the appeal of word prediction. Apple’s QuickType and third-party keyboards like Swype and SwiftKey will predict what you’re likely to say and save hundreds of keystrokes over the course of an article. All you have to do is begin to type a word and the predictive system will go to work for you, offering to complete the word, or even the phrase that you had in mind based on the context of the sentence.
I really value this kind of automation when I’m typing on my iPhone. However, after a day of testing SwiftKey, it wasn’t nearly comfortable for me as Fleksy is. The key is that Fleksy offers several size options, and their smallest keyboard has a truly tiny footprint on the iPad. It’s small enough that I can keep my fingers right at the bottom of the iPad, near the bezel. This allows me to type without bending my wrists up too much, so it feels more like typing on a real keyboard. All other iPad software keyboards, including Apple’s, are much larger in size so that you can hit every key properly. It is harder to type specific keys when Fleksy is set to its smallest size, but I find its correction is so good that I don’t really need to be that accurate.
So I’d like to revise that initial opinion of Fleksy. Not only is it awesome because of its integrated gestures and unique correction system, but it’s far more comfortable than any other iPad keyboard I’ve tried because of its tiny on-screen footprint. Fleksy recently released a patch that “optimized” the sizes of the keyboard for the iPad, but I’m relieved they allowed the smallest keyboard to stick around. Here’s hoping they keep it that way.