A lot has been done in the field of the smartphone inputs. While it was initially dictated by built-in keyboards alone, there are a number of options now. Despite the advent of the voice assistants, a keyboard is the bridge between you and your phone is a block of embedded alphabets, special characters, and numbers.
SwiftKey and GBoard (Google Keyboard) are two highly popular keyboard apps and each possesses tremendous features. Above all, both the apps are free with zero in-app purchases (at the time of writing).
So it’s only fair that we pitted both the keyboards against each other and see who wins at the end.
The integrated Google Search is one of the winning features of Gboard and needless to say, it makes searching and sharing seem like a piece of cake. For instance, you no longer have to leave the Facebook messenger (or any app) when you need to search for something.
So whether it’s a song, weather reports, news or a simple fact check, type and search on the go without leaving the solace of the current app.
The built-in search is one area where SwiftKey falls behind a bit. But then, do built-in search tools always prove useful?
For links to articles or news, it proves to be highly beneficial. You don’t need to leave the keyboard anymore to find content that you want to share as you have everything at your fingertips. But if you are looking to impress someone with phrases from exotic languages, you will have to go the extra mile and remove the link to the article manually.
If you ask me, you will need to alter your muscle memory a bit, since we are used to typing and then searching. On the contrary, in Gboard, you’ll need to tap on the Google icon and then type your query.
2. Arrow Keys Vs Gesture Control
Browsing through text can be a pain and most of the times the cursor doesn’t always land where you’d want it to. SwiftKey has a great approach for this with the arrow keys.
These keys situated on the last row of the keyboard does an awesome job when it comes to browsing text. A tap on the right direction is all it takes to move the cursor to the precise position.
Gboard has a more suave approach to this complicated job, all you have to do is slide your finger over the spacebar. Yep, you got me right — no more tap-tap.
To enable the arrow keys in SwiftKey, head over to the Settings > Keys and switch on the option for arrow keys.
3. Prediction Prowess: Who Wins?
Surely, the main actor in any keyboard app is word prediction. I have been a long-term user of SwiftKey and it has learned the majority of the words that I use. Most of the time I need to type in just a few letters and the rest is auto-suggested.
This is a big relief when it comes to sending out huge text bodies like addresses, pin numbers, etc, that stays permanent and is required to be sent often.
It would be unjust to match the prediction skills of both the keyboards — a couple of weeks against 3 years. Yet, it learned my style and I would get decent suggestions. But then we are talking Google, remember how it auto fills the search bar? I am sure with time, it would be at par with SwiftKey.
As far as auto-correct is concerned, SwiftKey normally picks up the middle tile, however, at times Gboard does pick up from the other tiles too. Though it’s a rare occurrence, I hope it gets better in the later releases/updates.
4. Special Characters & Punctuation Marks
Agreed that punctuation and special characters lift up the meaning of any written language and it’s highly essential that we get to access them in the minimum time possible. Both SwiftKey and Gboard let you have a quick access to the special characters set in their own ways.
In SwiftKey you can get the most of the characters at the first go. All it requires is a long press on the desired key.
For example, a long-press on Swould get you # smoothly, no need to tap into the special character key additionally.
The situation is a tad different in Gboard, most of the special characters can be accessed by a long-press on the period key and then choosing them. So, if you are a long-term user of SwiftKey, you might need some time to get used to this.
Moreover, SwiftKey automatically removes the space before a period, that’s not the case with the Gboard, where you have to manually remove it. It’s not much of an issue but slightly on the annoying side.
Both these keyboard apps put in a space after the period, so a huge relief on that end.
5. Emoji & GIF Search
This is one feature where the Gboard is slightly ahead of SwiftKey. If you love to add GIFs in messages, then you will come to love this one.
Just like the GIF search in FB messenger, all you need to do is type in the keyword and the list would be displayed almost instantly. The list is diverse and you can have your pick of emoticon that suits you best.
Likewise, for emoji search, Gboard lets you search for emojis. A fairly useful feature if you find it irritating to scroll through pages after pages of emojis. But let me warn you, sometimes the search results slightly differ from the actual keyword.
As for SwiftKey, it too has its share of emoji prediction, albeit differently. The emoji prediction needs to be enabled in the settings and it takes up the right tile in the suggestion tray. So, you will have to trade off one tile and that equals one less predicted word.
The search is quite smooth but then these two features really come to use only if you love having them in your conversations.
6. UI & Design
Both apps provide handsome UIs and the transition between the keyboard and settings is seamless. In terms of design, Gboard offers the one-handed mode by which the keyboard shrinks to one side of the display.
On the other hand, SwiftKey offers a host of options — changing the layout, resizing and the option to undock the keyboard.
So, both offer the functionality from two different perspectives. If one aims to make you an expert by typing with a single hand, the other helps you type better by having a better grip on the keyboard.
7. The Great Theme Library
When it comes to themes, SwiftKey is the ultimate winner. It has hordes of themes to choose from, whereas Gboard has roughly 20 themes (at the time of writing).
A bonus SwiftKey feature is that it has a built-in clipboard manager. This nifty feature lets you save copied snippets and in the process rescuing you from the hassle of installing a separate clipboard manager.
The copied snippets expire in an hour, however, there’s an option to pin them. A pinned text doesn’t expire and stays on top of the clipboard manager at any given point of time.
The GBoard doesn’t have a built-in clipboard manager, so you will have to rely on a different app for that.
So …Who’s the Winner?
Though a veteran in the world of keyboards, SwiftKey’s features are slightly more useful than Gboard’s. While some features are at par, (swiping speed or word abbreviations), there’re some areas (GIF search or gesture support) where both the keyboards give each other a stiff competition.
If you absolutely need lightning fast predictions and a built-in clipboard manager then SwiftKey is probably the keyboard for you. Otherwise, if you are looking for a fun aspect with the added benefit of Google search, then GBoard is sufficient for you.
So which app is your go-to app…do let us know in the comments section, will ya?