Swiftkey goes free on Android, adds emojis and dedicated number row


If you’ve been using an Android device for some time now then you’ve obviously heard of Swiftkey, the most popular alternative keyboard in the world of smartphones by any means. Until WWDC just over two weeks ago, it was not yet cross-platform but now is. Its text prediction technology and its “Flow” feature of allowing continuous ‘Swype’ input has been so successful that even the likes of Samsung have licensed it to use it as an underlying prediction engine in the proprietary keyboard bundled on all its devices. Now the app that used to cost $4.99 is available for free on the Play Store. There’s a catch though.

With the apparent growth to superior status of its prediction algorithms, the Swiftkey team decided it was time to now focus on making the app as appealing as possible. How do they do that? How about an alternative revenue stream other than just a simple app store purchase or upgrade to premium from its free app available in the same app stores? In-app purchases. A freemium model. The makers of Swiftkey have now designed themes which is what they’ll be selling. So you get the app for free and if you want to pimp it further than the freely available themes, you spend a buck (one theme) or two (theme bundle). A total of 30 themes are available in the store for now even though the team says 50 have been designed so far so we can only assume we’ll be seeing more come soon.

What of those like yours truly who had already bought the app? There’s a theme value pack named “Premiere Pack” that contains 10 premium themes.

Other than the switch in the payment mechanism, Swiftkey has also been updated to include some most requested features in the Swiftkey forums. Features that have already been available in the beta version of the app for the last few months. The most requested feature of course is the themes which the Swiftkey team has now decided to cash in on full time. The other features incorporated in the update today that were most requested include emojis (800 of them!) and that dedicated number row on top. If you already have Swiftkey you only need to head to the keyboard settings to activate the number row feature. Emojis will be there on your enter key as soon as you have installed the update.