IT & Systems Management

Fleksy launches public SDK, ups the ante on smart keyboards for iOS

Alternative keyboard app Fleksy is now available to all iOS app developers as a public SDK. That means developers can use Fleksy's smart keyboard technology within their own app, replacing Apple's native keyboard just in that space. After a private beta launch back in December 2013, Fleksy's keyboard is currently available in 14 iOS apps, including Evomail, Happy, and a few other note-taking and text apps, but this is the first that parent company Syntellia has offered the SDK to the public.

Does this announcement sound familiar? It should, vaguely. In January, rival keyboard app SwiftKey launched a note-taking app--SwiftKey Note for iOS--in partnership with Evernote. Though these two platforms take different approaches to typing on the iPhone, their end goal seems to be the same. Introducing users to different keyboards for iOS and getting them to jump on the smart keyboard bandwagon could put some pressure on Apple to loosen its grasp.

Because of Apple's restrictions on iOS, its native keyboard cannot be completely replaced by a third-party offering like it can on Android. The workaround is to use an app that contains a smart keyboard, and then export that text to the field you'd like to use it in. This process is clunky at best; a smart keyboard is only really of value when it's embedded within an app that you actually wanted to use.

Apple's keyboard isn't bad: It has solid autocorrect capabilities, remembers your commonly typed words, and lets you program your own shortcuts. But if you're willing to familiarize yourself with Fleksy, you could make typing even quicker.

Fleksy uses the oh-so-familiar QWERTY layout and takes up about the same amount of real estate as Apple's keyboard, but its keys are slightly more spaced out. As you start to type, Fleksy will guess what word you're trying to peck out and finish it for you. Here's a video demo of Fleksy's standalone app that we shot at the 2013 CES show.

Fleksy relies solely on gestures for navigation, which you'll have to master in order to use Fleksy efficiently. If the predicted word is wrong, swipe down to change it. Swipe right to enter a space, swipe left to delete, and swipe right twice to change the punctuation. For Fleksy pros, you can hide the keyboard all together and just type based on familiarity.

The public SDK keeps all of these same features intact, but users must have Fleksy's standalone iOS app installed along with the compatible third-party app. That way, it can share your custom settings and dictionary, which grows the more you use Fleksy. Developers can also offer their users different colored Fleksy keyboards that match the iPhone 5c's palette.

App developers can start experimenting with Fleksy's SDK right now, and I reckon we'll see the keyboard available on more and more apps as it becomes more well known.


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