I’m the type of guy who finds something he likes and sticks with it. At restaurants, I order the same food every time, or if I’m feeling adventurous, I will alternate between two options. The same goes for apps on my phone. I will spend a long time finding the right app, but once I find it, I rarely stray. That brings us to my multi-year love story with Fleksy, and why I finally switched to Google Keyboard.
After a short period with SwiftKey a few years ago, I discovered Fleksy, and my world changed. Back then, I was extremely dissatisfied by the speed and accuracy of swipe typing. Regardless of the keyboard I used, swiping to type just took longer and resulted in more mistakes.
Fleksy was different from everything else. When you made a mistake, you could just swipe up or down to select the autocorrected word you wanted, and it worked the same way with punctuation. Fleksy improved my typing speed immensely, and I gladly paid for every upgrade I could get.
Unfortunately, I recently heard that Fleksy was abandoned by its developer. Although that was partially incorrect, it has been acquired by Pinterest, which gives me about as much hope for updates as developer abandonment. I’ve gone through all the stages of grief and recently came to the moment of acceptance. It was time to move on and find another keyboard instead of watching my beloved Fleksy wither away into glitches and bugs. But which one? I hadn’t looked at other keyboards in years!
Thankfully, our own Derrick Miyao wrote a review of Google Keyboard in April that popped into my mind during this time. Right as I was about to leave Fleksy, I heard that an update for Google Keyboard brought a theme feature, and that was enough to push me over the edge. I have made the switch to Google Keyboard, and here are my reasons why.
I know what you’re thinking. I was just crapping on how much I hated swipe typing in the past, and I did. However, in the past two days of using Google Keyboard, I have seen a drastic change in the accuracy and speed of swipe typing. I can now match the speed I was getting with Fleksy, and I do not miss having to insert spaces manually. I do miss swiping up and down to select the correct word or change punctuation, but my typing experience with Google Keyboard has been pretty sweet so far.
My favorite part of Fleksy were all of the gesture commands that made typing faster. While Google Keyboard does not have the same gestures, I have found new ones to love. The ability to precisely move the cursor by sliding along the spacebar is nothing short of a miracle. With large hands like mine, pinpoint accuracy on a touchscreen is basically impossible.
Also, being able to delete multiple words in a single swipe is amazing for people like me who change their entire sentence halfway through. By sliding left from the backspace button, you can select how many words you want to remove and remove them all instantly.
The option to add themes is nothing new to the wide world of alternate keyboards, but it is still something I enjoy because it allows further customization and expression. As I was deciding whether or not to jump to Google Keyboard, I thought about how much I was going to miss the option to theme, but thankfully, Google read my mind and added the feature right when I needed it.
The coolest part about theming in Google Keyboard is the option to add your own photo as a keyboard theme, which gives an even more personal feel to your phone.
After Fleksy, I vowed never to lose an app due to developer withdrawal (or company purchase) ever again. Since this keyboard is owned by Google, I feel pretty confident in placing my trust in Google’s hands. I do not see them dropping support anytime soon, and that means I will not have to make such a tough decision for a while.
The ability to change the size of the keyboard is fantastic. I like to devote as little screen as possible to my keyboard so there is more room to read what I am typing. The regular size of the Google Keyboard was too large for me, but there is an option in the settings to change the size to smaller or larger than the default. I immediately chose the smallest size, and it is the perfect height for me.
Although my large hands basically guarantee I’ll never have to use it, having the option for One-handed mode is great. This mode will shrink the keyboard and offset it to the left or right of the screen to make typing with one hand on large phones much more manageable.
When I used an emoji in Fleksy, it would automatically go to the front of my Recents, and if I used other emojis from the Recents panel, that first emoji would still remain at the front regardless of how often I used it. In Google Keyboard, the Recents panel for emojis is ordered by the most recently used emojis as it should be. This may sound insignificant, but I have already found it to be useful.
So that’s it then. I have made the switch to Google Keyboard and made it the default on all of my devices. The question remains if Fleksy were to be “brought back to life”, would I leave Google Keyboard? Honestly, it depends. If Pinterest respects the ideas behind Fleksy and continues it with frequent updates, I might consider it again although I am skeptical about future support.
But for now, I am absolutely loving Google Keyboard. If you have been devastated by the Fleksy news and are looking for a keyboard replacement, I highly recommend checking out Google Keyboard. It has come a long way, and best of all, it is still free!