Take Apple out of your iPhone

Review: For a different way to type on the iPhone, try Fleksy

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At a Glance
  • Syntellia Fleksy for iOS

Take Apple out of your iPhone

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Syntellia's free text input system Fleksy for iOS is purportedly smarter than the average bear. According to Syntellia, Fleksy aims to bring “laptop keyboard” level touch-typing to mobile devices. It's designed to be a sort-of substitute to the native iOS keyboard, but lives as a standalone app instead—an interesting way to bring a different keyboard to the iOS platform.

Fleksy consists only of a full-sized keyboard and traditional text box. Launch the app, and then start typing whatever you want. If you’d like to use your text with Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages, tap the blue button in the top right corner to post to one of those platforms from directly within the app. If it’s for another app, copy the text, close Fleksy, and paste what you wrote into the text box in whatever application you want to use that text in.

Does it work? Sort of. I particularly like Fleksy’s invisible keyboard option, which essentially toggles the keyboard off and lets you thumb at the screen blindly. Pleasantly enough, errors have been minimal. Eight times out of ten, Fleksy has succeeded in discerning whatever word I've been trying to mash out. Unsurprisingly, though, it functions better with longer words (there is simply more room to work with) than shorter ones—Fleksy will rarely make a mistake with something like “discombobulate” but will routinely confuse “on” with “in.”

There is a solution to that, of course. If the suggestion Fleksy has supplied doesn't fit your requirements, you can go fetch the correct word yourself by swiping downwards through a list of possible alternatives.

Although you'll eventually get used to it, the gesture functions never stop feeling a little awkward. Instead of hitting the space bar, Fleksy requires a hard swipe to the right. If you want to add punctuation, swipe again to the right when the cursor appears, or swipe down. A downward swipe also changes the word, if Fleksy doesn’t guess it correctly.

As much as you might come to like Fleksy, one of its biggest issues is something that has nothing to do with the app itself. Apple won't let you replace iOS’s default keyboard, so if you’re not writing something to be used with Fleksy’s supported apps, you’ll need to cut and paste that text into the designated text entry box when you’re finished. Work definitely still needs to be done, but it's certainly off to an intriguing start. The developers are aiming to make this especially useful for the visually impaired, and have been doing extensive testing in that area.

Bottom line

Overall, I like Fleksy. It's smart enough that I can see it being useful and has great predictive capabilities, but it's still far from being a reason to discard the iPhone’s built-in keyboard. (Not that you can, anyways.)

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At a Glance
  • Fleksy is smart enough that I can see it being useful and has great predictive capabilities, but it's still far from being a reason to discard the iPhone’s built-in keyboard.

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