One of the most popular third party keyboards on Android has just shed its price tag. In announcing a major update with new features, SwiftKey has also dropped the bombshell that it will now be available free of charge, but will still hold on to in-app purchases via a new add-on store.
This store will be home to themes, both free and paid. If you have no heart for the default selection of appearances that come with SwiftKey, this new SwiftKey store will be the place to go to. To kickstart this new in-app market and to rewards its premium users, SwiftKey is giving away 10 new premium themes, collectively worth $4.99, all for free, of course.
This update isn't all about the price, however. There are new features added as well. In the realm of fun and LOL's, Switkey is adding 800 emojis to its selection, letting users choose the perfect graphic to convey the appropriate mood or thought. And to make it even easier, SwiftKey has an emoji prediction engine that will automatically suggest or replace words that you are typing with the right emoji for the occasion. In the realm of usefulness, SwiftKey has added a number row at the top of the keyboard. You wont' have to switch keyboard layouts anymore just to reach those digits.
SwiftKey is also building on what already exists. To mark the major update, it is replacing its theme with a new one named Nickel, the next element in the periodic table after Cobalt, it's previous theme. It has also improved the prediction engine for its 66 supported languages, and reminds Japanese users that they too have an engine coming soon. The SwiftKey Flow feature, which introduces gliding, actually swiping, typing popularized by rival Swype, has a distinct new look, leaving behind a more pleasing trail to mark where your fingers have been.
This news, which will undoubtedly be welcomed by Android users everywhere, comes on the heels of an equally welcome news for iOS users. After Apple opened the doors to third party keyboards in iOS 8, SwiftKey was swift to announce their commitment to bring the same experience to Apple's platform. Considering the iOS 8 launch is still a few months away, it is still unknown what form this version of SwiftKey will take, but it isn't hard to imagine that it will also adopt a freemium business model here as well.