SwiftKey makes a keyboard app for Google Android which is known for its high quality text prediction technology — often allowing you to skip entering letters or even complete words just by tapping the next word that pops up in the recommendation screen. Up until now the company has focused on Android phones, but this week SwiftKey has launched a private beta of a new keyboard app designed for Android tablets.
SwiftKey Tablet has the same text prediction software as the smartphone version. But what sets the new app apart is the new user interface designed to make thumb typing easier on tablets with large displays. When you hold a tablet in portrait mode you get a standard keyboard across the bottom of the screen. But when you flip to landscape mode, the keyboard is split into three sections, with letter keys on the right and left sides of the display and number keys in the center.
While it can take a little getting used to, this layout should make thumb typing on a 10 inch or larger tablet much easier since you don’t have to stretch your thumbs all the way to the center of the keyboard very often. If you prefer a more standard landscape keyboard layout you can disable the split screen view though.
ZDNet blogger James Kendrick took the new app for a spin and reports that it works just as well on a 7 inch tablet running Android 2.2 (the Samsung Galaxy Tab) as it does on a 10 inch Android 3.0 tablet (the Motorola XOOM). But the default “neon” color scheme is clearly designed for Android 3.0. Some early testers think the keys are too small on 7 inch screens though.
In order to participate in the beta you’ll need to sign up for a SwiftKey VIP account and apply for the beta program.