Can a single app make a major difference in your productivity? For anyone who routinely taps out lengthy emails on their phone or tablet, the answer is a resounding yes -- when that app is SwiftKey 3.
This replacement for the stock Android keyboard brings a wealth of speed- and accuracy-enhancing features to the table. It normally sells for $3.99, but for the next few days, you can get SwiftKey 3 from Google Play for just 99 cents.
Just how good is it? The app earned an average of 4.5 stars (out of 5) from some 70,000 users on Google Play, and Business Insider claimed yesterday that it will "make you wish you had Android."
Overstatement? As a pretty dedicated iPhone user, I can attest that I wish SwiftKey 3 was available for iOS. There's no question I can type significantly faster on a SwiftKey-equipped Android phone than I can with my iPhone 4S.
The chief piece of magic conjured by the app is its ability to guess the words you're typing as you're typing them, which it does with uncanny accuracy.
And not just the current word, but also the one that comes after. For examply, suppose you want to type "pretty good." By the time you get to "pr," you'll see the word "pretty" appear in the predictive-text bar just above the keyboard. One tap and the full word gets inserted.
Even more amazing, SwiftKey then gives you a selection of words that are likely to follow: "much," "good," and "sure." One more tap and you've "typed" two words, using a total of four taps instead of 11.
Amortize that over the course of countless text messages, emails, and the like, and it's easy to see why SwiftKey has such a devoted following: It really can save you a lot of time and effort.
Another feature, Smart Space, lets you keep tapping away at the keyboard without pausing to hit that pesky space bar between words (though I found this habit almost impossible to break). SwiftKey also has a "smart" punctuation key that provides single-tap access to the period, comma, exclamation point, and question mark.
If you're not willing to invest a whole buck, you can grab the free trial version and make sure it's something you're comfortable using. (Keep in mind that there's a slight learning curve, and it takes the app a few days of learning your habits to really maximize its potential.)
My two cents: This is 99 cents very well spent. If you're the least bit unhappy with your Android device's stock keyboard (or even another third-party alternative you've tried), this is definitely worth a try.