SwiftKey for iOS review: An Android favorite comes to iPhone and iPad

SwiftKey has been one of the most popular alternative keyboards on Android for years, and one of the best selling apps of all time in Google Play. With an incredibly fast and accurate prediction engine, SwiftKey can not only correct misspellings, but make suggestions based on actual context. SwiftKey Flow lets you drag your finger effortlessly across keys in order to form words faster than ever. And with the introduction of iOS 8 and third-party keyboards, SwiftKey brings smarter and more efficient typing right to your iPhone and iPad!

Once you've downloaded SwiftKey to your iPhone or iPad, you'll need to install it. This will be the case with all third party keyboards. Luckily the process is easy enough, and the SwiftKey app does a great job of explaining it to new users. Just tap on the SwiftKey app from your Home screen and follow the instructions.

After you've installed SwiftKey, you can use it anytime you'd like by holding down the globe key on your keyboard and selecting it. It will remain as the default until you switch to something else. As for the SwiftKey app, you can use it to change themes, switch languages, manage your SwiftKey Cloud account, and more.

SwiftKey Cloud allows you to sync secure and encrypted usage statistics with SwiftKey so your personalized settings stay in sync across devices. For example, if you type a lot on your iPhone, SwiftKey starts to learn and better predict words and strings. Instead of starting over on your iPad, simply sign into SwiftKey Cloud and all the knowledge SwiftKey has gathered is when available in both places.

It's also worth noting that SwiftKey added a new Facebook login option for Cloud but if you've previously used it on Android, you'll want to sign into your existing SwiftKey Cloud account via Google instead. For anyone migrating from an Android device to a new iPhone, if you've used SwiftKey as your keyboard of choice, all your SwiftKey usage habits will be right where you left them on Android.

SwiftKey currently supports English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese. In order to use a different language, just launch the SwiftKey app itself and download the language packs you need. Unlike many other keyboards that require you to switch languages on the fly, SwiftKey is great at detection and can tell what language you're using. So just download languages once and use them whenever you'd like, no switching required. You can also use the SwiftKey app to switch between keyboard layouts such as QWERTY, AZERTY, and more.

One of the most popular features of SwiftKey is Flow. This is the style of text entry where you simply trace your finger in patterns to form words. For many folks, this is a faster method of entry than tapping. SwiftKey also does a wonderful job of learning your tracing habits, as well as tapping. There are certain situations where SwiftKey Flow is not available for use, such as password fields or when typing proper email addresses in the "to" field of an email. These exclusions are for obvious reasons, as SwiftKey can not reasonably predict them. And if you don't want to use Flow at all, you can of course turn it off via the SwiftKey app itself.

While SwiftKey is universally available for both iPhone and iPad, SwiftKey Flow is currently only available for iPhone. This isn't due to the inability to integrate Flow for the iPad, but because of memory restrictions Apple has in place.

Since not every user is the same, SwiftKey also takes into consideration you're unique typing style. For instance, there are numerous times when I hit the "P" key when I meant to hit "O". Over time SwiftKey will pick up on this behavior and automatically correct it without any effort on my part. The same goes for swipe patterns. This same principle applies for situations where you may be left hand dominant and favor tapping or swiping on the far left of keys instead of the right. All this data makes SwiftKey more and more accurate over time.

Keep in mind that to use all the features SwiftKey offers, you'll need to allow full access via the keyboard settings in your iPhone or iPad. While it isn't necessary in order to use SwiftKey, it renders any kind of prediction inoperable. This includes SwiftKey Flow. So remember to make sure you've enabled full access in order to take advantage of all SwiftKey has to offer.

The good

  • Amazingly fast predictions
  • SwiftKey Cloud syncs predictions to all your devices via one login, including cross-platform
  • Light and dark theme to suit everyone's taste
  • Multiple languages on the fly — just start typing in any downloaded language and SwiftKey takes care of the rest, no keyboard settings to toggle between
  • Flow will be tremendously beneficial for many people on the larger screens of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The bad

  • No complaints so far

The bottom line

SwiftKey is one of the best selling Android apps of all time for a reason. With the combination of Flow, SwiftKey Cloud, and some of the best on the fly language detection you could ask for, SwiftKey is well positioned to become one of the most popular third party keyboards for iOS as well.

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

49 Comments
  • Awesome review. I think you point out something Apple needs to address. Are we going to now need folders for all the Extensions? We need a way to have these in the Settings App without a separate "app" Eager to try it out tomorrow!
  • Its the same way that Android currently operates with SwiftKey for reference. I don't think its a big deal but us Apple users sure don't like extra icons on our homescreens :)
  • Bury it in the app drawer.... Wait... Jk Yeah, just stick In the folder with the pre installed apps you don't use. Once you mess around with the settings for about a month you should never need to touch it again. Fair warning, after a long time of use SwiftKey does seem to poop out crap poop out crap from time to time. In that case you may need to clear your learned dictionary. But other wise, I loooves it. Posted via iMore App
  • I sure hope blackberry comes out with a 3rd party keyboard. I love the BB10 keyboards and the predictive text "flicking" gesture. Sent from the iMore App
  • It won't be free if they do Posted via iMore App
  • Well, you've already paid +600 USD (directly or indirectly) for the phone/tablet - why not spend a couple more, just to get the best software keyboard ever made? :)
  • Because SwiftKey isn't much worse and it's free. Posted via iMore App
  • If you don't support app makers and buy some apps, why would anyone keep creating apps for free and not make Any money doing it.
    stop being cheap, pay for an app once in a while.
  • I bought SwiftKey when it was $3.99? Problem? I don't use a ton of paid apps. I have a pc for games, and most social media apps are free of course. The better twitter clients cost money of course. Posted via iMore App
  • I've been using SwiftKey for a long time. It just keeps getting better and better. Using it now and 1/2 of this I didn't even need to type on my S4 Mini. You iPhone users will be delighted on the larger screens of the iPhones 6. Posted via the iMore App from my S4 Mini WITH an LED CrackLight ;)
  • Agreed Swiftkey is awesome. Nice that Apple finally let you guys have the option of different keyboards. I know this is going too far, but would be great if Apple finally let you guys have the option to set default apps (ie using Google Maps instead of Apple Maps, etc)
  • Yup. You went too far....lol. I will stick with iCloud and Apple (not a Google fan). But I will definitely try Swiftkey. Oh, and I wouldn't mind being able to change defaults.
  • Thank you so much, Ally! A great review.. looking forward for this desperately! Tired of native keyboard on iPhone/iPad.
  • Not too happy that it won't have flow on ipad. Would work nicely with the larger screen.
  • Have you used flow on an Android tab? It's not as great as one would think. I ended up compressing and shrinking the keyboard to make it usable. Posted via iMore App
  • Up to preference I guess but I have used it on my old samsung galaxy tab plus (back in the day) and it was mighty useful.
  • Oh, in that case, swipe away. I guess it wasn't for me. But I'm more of a tapper anyways Posted via iMore App
  • I hope they make more themes available because only having the Nickel Light or Dark won't bring as much diversity as the one on Android. Aside from that the keyboard looks gorgeous on iOS. Great that they took the time to make it look native.
  • I bet you they release colours as in-app purchases. I'm sure another keyboard maker said that's what they are going to do. Not a bad idea.
  • I thought ios8 includes it's own type of predictive keyboard. If it does I'm curious what's the difference? Why would I use Swiftkey over stock predictive (new) keyboard?
  • SwiftKey has flow, and darker themes. I'm not sure if you get the freedom to resize the keyboard. Also, SwiftKey will learn how you type across all devices (Android and Android tabs as well as your iPhone and iPad) Posted via iMore App
  • Will Swift Key be a free app ????
  • Yes sir it will. Themes cost money. Posted via iMore App
  • Good news .
  • Swiftkey has flow. While the updated ios 8 keyboard has only improved predictions. No flow-kind mechanism.
  • I would've preferred this to be a 'default' feature in the iOS 8 update and not the other way round where instead we have to download a separate app for it. Though change is always refreshing so it's kinda okay. Plus reading the review makes me feel it's gonna be a great experience!
  • Well, you can choose your keyboard... There are other great ones out there, like Swype and Touchpal.
  • Wooooo!
  • Free is awesome, would gladly pay a few for something so functional.
  • SwiftKey is in the App Store now Sent from the iMore App
  • Never mind, it's just SwiftKey Note Sent from the iMore App
  • i have this problem with ios current keyboard where im ALWAYS accidentally using 'i' in place of an 'o' and since autocorrect is so awful and i wont use it, i spend a lot of time fixing my typo mess. im hoping a third party keyboard will be a little smarter and more useful to someone like me. how would i ever find out about all this good stuff without imore? cant wait for ios8! Sent from the iMore App
  • I've been looking forward to this for a long time. I'm SO glad SwiftKey is finally on iOS.
  • I wonder, am I the only one concerned with giving these companies access to *everything* I type? That requires a lot of trust for me; something I don't have (yet) for this or other companies making keyboards. What about credit card info entered via iCloud Keychain and/or 1password? While it seems likely that they would only have access to information typed directly on their keyboard, for something as sensitive as credit card info I would want more direct confirmation that they don't have access to all information input while their keyboard is in use.
  • Developers can choose to block 3rd party keyboards and additionally, any field that is marked as a password is automatically switched back to the iOS keyboard for security reasons.
  • I find a little slow, at least when it initially pops up, something I have also noticed on my Android phone....
  • Uhm... Why don't I have word shapes on my iPad? I can't find any option anywhere to activate it... Any hints or tips?
  • Very excited to try this on iOS. SwiftKey is best!
  • I really want to see them bring Flow to iPads. I used my Google Nexus 7 tablet for taking notes in church using Swiftkey Flow...and was looking forward to finally going "all Apple" when I upgraded today. At least there's Swype...and it does work on my iPad Mini. Now I can give that Nexus to my granddaughter.
  • No flow for the iPad is a gigantic let down, as Swiftkey does not separate itself at all on the iPad otherwise imo. There is literally no reason for me to install it on the iPad.
  • Does Swype work on it?
  • Can any one get the swype feature to work on the iPad with swiftkey? I tried on my iPad mini using the swiftkey and cannot get it to swype. Any clues of how to fix it?
  • It's not enabled.
  • Great news! Finally, custom keyboards are on the App Store! We've just unlocked our community page for SwiftKey and would like to invite you to share your first impressions with it. We are hoping to get the developers on the line too, so you can ask them questions, and get their answers first hand: http://www.appew.co/ios/swiftkey-keyboard Thanks!
  • No complaints so far?!? - No Flow on iPads.
    - Many languages not supported (while they are supported on Android).
    - Therefore, no added value to the iPad keyboard.
  • So that's it? Just... No flow on iPad. I'm with Jan, I'd call that a complaint. What good is this thing to iPad users if its star feature isn't available? Count me among the unimpressed.
  • OMG! OMG! I finally have Swiftkey on my iphone!! I can't tell u how much I missed it. Only good thing that came out of Android! lol I am in heaven.
  • This was more like a how to hide than an actual review.
  • *Guide not hide