I’m sitting here, a grown adult human, ignoring the three full-sized keyboards within arm’s reach, choosing to write on a tiny two-year-old Android phone instead. And thanks to SwiftKey’s excellent Clarity beta keyboard, I haven’t had to throw it at the wall yet.
SwiftKey is one of the oldest names in the third-party keyboard world. Their Android offering has been around forever, and they were in the first wave of third-party iOS keyboards, once Apple allowed them onto the platform. Their standard offering is a feature-rich, tweak-until-you-die powerhouse for power users.
The Clarity keyboard, currently available as a free beta on Android, is meant to be a far more stripped-back offering. That shows on the surface — there’s no option to change colours, vary the length of a touch for long-press, or other clever shortcuts that SwiftKey addicts are probably used to.
But one thing it does pack is hands-down the best autocorrect system I’ve ever seen. Rather than always correcting words straight away (although it will sometimes do that for an obvious misspelling), it waits to see what the next few words in the sentence are, before jumping back to correct. Case in point: if I type ‘well’, it leaves it alone; as soon as that changes to ‘well see’, it throws the apostrophe in.
Best of all, if the autocorrect isn’t to your liking, you just tap the backspace key, and SwiftKey will revert to your original text. That’s approximately 10,000 per cent easier than hitting that stupid little ‘x’ on the iOS keyboard, which always manages to vanish just after you notice it.
Clarity is only in beta for now, which means it’ll only work with Android handsets — and even then, there are reports of issues with Samsung and LG devices working correctly. But as it stands, Clarity is more than just perfectly functional: it’s the only smartphone keyboard I think I’d ever consider tapping out a 300-word post on. [Google Play]
(Disregarding all of the above praise: any typos are entirely the fault of autocorrect and SwiftKey, that horrible, buggy piece of crap.)