SwiftKey, the popular third-party Android keyboard app that uses text prediction to enable super-fast typing, is moving from a paid model to a fermium one. SwiftKey, on Wednesday, updated its Android app to v5.0, and also announced the launch of the SwiftKey Store. The app, which has been one of the best-selling paid apps in Google Play since its launch in 2012, was previously $3.99.
Notably, just last week at WWDC, Apple announced system-wide support for third-party keyboard apps, and SwiftKey quickly announced it was bringing its app to the platform. Perhaps in a reaction to its upcoming growth user base via Apple’s iOS ecosystem, SwiftKey has shifted to the freemium model on Android.
The change is a significant shift for the company, which has always charged for its app. Now, Swiftkey is taking the freemium route; the app is free to download, but users can pay to purchase new themes for their keyboard.
Themes have long been one of the most-requested features for Swiftkey, according to Joe Braidwood, the company’s chief marketing officer.
Most of the features in SwiftKey v5.0 were a part of the SwiftKey beta app for Android. SwiftKey for Android devices was first launched in beta in July, 2010 while the company behind the app was founded in 2008 by Jon Reynolds and Dr. Ben Medlock. The app uses a blend of artificial intelligence that learns from previous SMS messages and enables it to predict the next word the user intends to type.
“We can now engage much more with the requests that we get and build out all this great content,” Braidwood told Mashable. “This has been one of the biggest requests for the longest time: ‘I love your core technology, but I want to change this thing about the keyboard.’ Having the SwiftKey store inside of the app allows us to do that.”
The store added 30 new themes,like Nickel and Cobalt, which include both free and paid options. Users can also purchase packs of themes. Those who have already paid for the app will automatically get the “Premier Pack” of 10 themes when they download the update.
The update also adds an optional number row at the top of the keyboard, brings predictions for emojis (which are now part of database of more than 800 symbols supported on Android 4.1 or higher devices), and wider language support including Belarusian, Mongolian, Tatar, Uzbek and Welsh. SwiftKey is also touting the improved prediction engine and ‘Flow’ accuracy, as well as improved Flow trails.
Behind the scenes, Swiftkey improved its prediction engine, which enables the app to learn from users’ patterns to predict what they will type before they type it. The company also revamped its flow-trail feature, which lets users type by swiping their finger across the keyboard (similar to Samsung’s Swype keyboard).
SOURCE: SwiftKey Blog