SwiftKey 3 Beta Speeds Up Android IMs by Learning Your Texting Habits

SwiftKey 3 Beta is a redesign that includes typing software so smart there's no need for the space bar. Its predictive typing brain learns how you speak by culling from Facebook and Twitter.

SwiftKey 3 Beta, the latest version of U.K.-based TouchType€™s keyboard software for Android devices, is now available as a free download to SwiftKey€™s VIP user community, which is said to be more than 30,000 strong now.

Not only does the software help users type faster and dispense with a message quicker, but the team has smartened things up to the point that the software now knows when you€™ve missed a space and inserts it, rendering the space bar moot, the thinking goes.

This redesigned version includes a larger space bar, as well as two new themes€”Cobalt, which matches the SwiftKey look and feel, and Holo, which is a sort of Ice Cream Sandwich homage. There€™s also a new user interface, a new way to more easily get to punctuation keys and support for an additional seven languages€”Korean, Estonian, Farsi, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian and Serbian€”bringing its total to 42.

The team also made core changes, such as a backup feature that keeps track of learned language data and new ways for users to customize auto-correct features.

€œWe€™ve cracked one of the hardest problems that exists in text entry€”how to correctly determine when a user has missed spaces,€ TouchType CMO Joe Braidwood wrote in an April 4 blog post. €œWith our Smart Space technology, SwiftKey 3 figures out when you€™ve missed spaces (or maybe hit a letter instead) across long strings of sloppy text. So you can type €˜Lleasexqllme€™ and SwiftKey will know you mean €˜Please call me.€™€

The software replaces an Android smartphone€™s keyboard with one powered by its Fluency prediction engine, which learns with each use to produce more accurate corrections over time. It not only gets better at fixing your mistakes, it learns to anticipate what you€™re going to say.

€œI think what really impresses people is how accurately we get the next word before they even enter any characters,€ Rhodri Thomas, TouchType€™s chief commercial officer, says in a video on the site. €œJust by someone using it a couple of times and they see their girlfriend or boyfriend€™s name or the name of their dog appear as a prediction really blows their mind.€

Maybe more mind blowing (or discomfort-making) is the means by which it manages it.

€œThe machine learning and artificial intelligence models that sit behind SwiftKey feed on data,€ explains Dr. Ben Medlock, a co-founder and CTO of the company. €œ[With this new version] we€™ve taken more data than ever before€”we€™ve pulled it in from your Gmail account, your Facebook account, your Twitter, and we€™ve pulled it all together in this profile that captures the way you speak. And that€™s really the power of SwiftKey and the power of the Fluency engine that sits behind it.€

According to TouchType, in six months it€™s become the leading text-entry application, with more than 700,000 downloads. New members€”anyone who wants to download the app€”can join the SwiftKey VIP community for a limited time, by visiting http://vip.swiftkey.net.