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The big breakthrough in touchscreen text entry was, without a doubt, swipe-style input. Being able to slide your finger on the screen and have words materialize feels almost magical at first. But the market seems to be cornered by Swype, SwiftKey, and whatever keyboard came with your phone (more often than not, a variant of Swype itself, because the company works with phone makers). Back in January, I wrote up an extensive test MakeUseOf Tests: What Is The Best Android Keyboard? MakeUseOf Tests: What Is The Best Android Keyboard? In this follow-up to our post from 2011 featuring 6+ fantastic Honeycomb keyboards, I’d like to take a good hard look at four of the most popular and well-regarded sliding keyboard. Call it a “keyboard... Read More to determine which is best: Swype, SwiftKey, or SlideIT (A third, less known contender). Had I written that post today, I would have included TouchPal X, a capable and very customizable sliding keyboard that brings its own Blackberry-like twist to the text prediction game.

The Obligatory Promotional Video

Before we can decide if an app delivers, we need to see what it promises.

The banner feature is word prediction where “words emerge out of the keys”. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s exactly how the Blackberry Z10’s keyboard works. I, for one, was quite happy to see this feature come to Android, and it’s not the only trick TouchPal X has up its sleeve.

Entering Text: T9 Meets The Future

The first thing that caught my attention is that TouchPal X doesn’t foist the future off on you:  If you’re a die-hard T9 user, by all means, knock yourself out:

touchpal-1

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You get not one, but two modes of T9. The one shown on the right is not exactly T9 but the principle is just the same: Big, roomy keys to tap on, and a text prediction algorithm. And just like on your old Nokia, you can’t slide between keys. There is much to be said for T9 as robust single-hand text entry system – we’ve even shown you a launcher based on T9 AppDialer Pro is a Lightning Fast T9 App Launcher AppDialer Pro is a Lightning Fast T9 App Launcher On Android, there are generally two ways to launch an app. AppDialer Pro offers a third, much faster way. Read More just recently. Nice to see a keyboard maker who still takes it seriously.

If you’re more into sliding and swiping, you’ll find the full-on QWERTY mode more interesting:

touchpal-2

I’m typing this into Draft, one of my favorite Markdown editors Draft: A High-Quality, No-Nonsense Way To Keep Notes On Android, With Full Dropbox Sync Draft: A High-Quality, No-Nonsense Way To Keep Notes On Android, With Full Dropbox Sync I consider myself a discerning note-taker. If a note-taking application isn't just so, it can drive me crazy. This is where I'm supposed to tell you I'm on a never-ending quest to find a great... Read More for Android, and the top toolbar (with the parenthesis, asterisk and so on) belongs to Draft. To the left, you can see some text entry action: As promised, words “emerge” out of the keys. Just like on a BlackBerry, the predicted word is placed according to its initial letter (so “day” comes under the D key). I’m not sure how often I would really use this feature, but having the predictions pop up on the actual keyboard makes them more visible (you do get predictions in the top bar, too).

To the right, you can see a mode dedicated to solving one of the more annoying aspects of text entry on Android: Moving around. Yes, you can tap the screen and drag, but it’s a fairly terrible user experience. TouchPal X offers a roomy edit pad that even the fattest of thumbs would feel comfortable on. You can move the cursor around, trigger text selection, and perform common editing operations (even enter a space if you have two words fused together).

Throughout my testing, TouchPal X felt swift and responsive. Then again, I was using the Sony Xperia Z1, so just about any app feels responsive.

Making TouchPal X Yours

Text entry is a personal thing – some people go for T9, others enjoy swiping, while others still like to hunt and peck. TouchPal does its best to accommodate all of these different styles by letting you customize many aspects of the typing experience. Without even going into a Settings screen, you can toggle predictive tricks on and off, and even resize the keyboard and change the theme:

touchpal-3

For even more customization, tap into the Settings screen:

touchpal-x-2

You can customize anything from keypress sounds to whether or not predictions should be animated.

Visual and Language Tweaks

Some of us speak more than one language, and not everyone likes a dark keyboard. No problem:

touchpal-x-3

TouchPal X comes with a built-in store much like the one used in Go Launcher, which we reviewed 5 Gorgeous Go Launcher EX Themes To Make Your Droid Sexier Than Ever [Android 2.0+] 5 Gorgeous Go Launcher EX Themes To Make Your Droid Sexier Than Ever [Android 2.0+] It can be said that the app launcher is the defining app for the Android user experience. If you’re stuck with a crappy launcher, you may feel the entire Android experience is lacking. Fortunately, there’s... Read More back in 2011. The store features many themes, as well as languages. To the right you can see some languages have the “Wave” feature – the official name for “words appearing on keys”. Languages with no Wave support still have swiping, which is the important bit, really.

Another trick you can use to customize TouchPal X is to set an image as a background from the keyboard. After playing around with it, I understand why few keyboards let you do this:

touchpal-x-6

It’s a great way to make your keyboard look terrible.

A Respectable Contender That Deserves More Love

TouchPal X is free, powerful, versatile, and mature. I can’t promise you it will win you over, especially not given the two other fantastic options which are out there, but it’s definitely worth a try. Keyboards win or lose based on everyday reliability and accuracy, not fancy features. To see if this is the keyboard for you, you’ll just have to try it out. Let me know how it works out in the comments – bonus points if you type the comment using TouchPal X, without correcting any of the typos.

  1. Daniel Bryen
    March 18, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    The latest update removed t9 but it has caused many complaints so it may be back in the next updates

  2. jedics
    April 26, 2014 at 6:17 am

    used Touchpal for many months but I think accuracy is getting worse instead of better, swiftkey was as accurate or better out of the box but as others have said its such a power hog, I mean 50 meg for a keyboard?

    lags my phone on occasion so if it gets any worse Im back to touchpal.

  3. Aidan
    March 6, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I recently installed TouchPal and so far think it's very good, except one annoying thing. How do I get TouchPal to learn new words? There doesn't seem to be a way of inputting your own personalized lexicon. It's annoying having to repeatedly tap in things like user names. Am I just missing something? Thanks!

    • Erez Z
      March 7, 2014 at 11:46 am

      I believe the Smart input settings are supposed to help with this, but I can't say I'm totally sure. Have you tried contacting the developer for assistance?

  4. Aussie
    January 17, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Swype is no longer a solution anyway, it's become a memory hog and lag freak that slows down your entire phone.

    It's now between SwiftKey, TouchPal and Google Keyboard.

    Having used the full version of each (including Swype), I can certainly say that TouchPal feels the slickest and most natural. Swype is still the most accurate for swiping, followed by TouchPal, but the issues it causes all over your phone makes it a no go zone.

    Kudos to TouchPal.

  5. Nikos Chrisoulis
    January 1, 2014 at 1:09 am

    I have paid for both Swype and Swiftkey. Hardcore user of swiftkey for about 2 years.

    I tried Touchpal X about a month ago, just for the fun of it. Never looked back.
    Swiping always predicts the proper word, even in my native language (Greek)

    Kudos to the devs.

  6. Wayne
    December 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    What I like about Touchpal from the get go was the keyboard format (its called T+) that mimicked Suretype keyboard from the Blackberry Pearl. I typed really really fast on that keyboard, circa 2006, and I am appreciative that I can use it again on an Android phone.

    • Erez Z
      December 25, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      You mean that "not quite T9" layout? That's really interesting, then, because they basically kept on mimicking blackberry with the "words on letters" feature, too.

  7. Aaron
    December 20, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I hadn't heard of this one before. I installed it, and so it is incredible! Much more responsive than Swype. I think I found my new keyboard.

  8. Brian Gray
    December 20, 2013 at 3:42 am

    I've used Touchpal extensively. It's the best I've found that's free, however it makes plenty of mistakes both when swyping and doing voice dictation. If only the Swype/Dragon dictation app were a bit cheaper I could really justify getting it as it is amazingly accurate. It too has its issues, but they are minimal.
    Does anyone know, if I were to buy the Swype/Dragon app, can I transfer it from phone to phone as I acquire new ones?

  9. bennyty beck
    December 20, 2013 at 12:15 am

    My two cents:

    Touchpal X has served me well on my old LG Optimus V, which is not powerful enough to run the newer versions of Swiftkey without lag.

    HOWEVER, the newest update, as far as I can tell, has introduced a crash bug that locks my whole phone up a few minutes into use. That said, I haven't seen anyone else with this issue.

    If you happen to know anything I could do or how to revert to a previous version, I'd appreciate it.

    • Erez Z
      December 22, 2013 at 9:13 am

      Since the developer actually weighed in on the comments to this post, I get the feeling they may be responsive. Did you try emailing them with a question?

  10. Shawn Rosvold
    December 19, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I just downloaded it onto my Defy XT which has very little internal memory. This app takes up almost 20 mb. It won't move to my SD card, so I can't use it. Too bad, because it looks like the perfect solution for my fat fingers and non-existent typing abilities.

  11. nive
    December 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    First Android keyboard I feel comfortable using; been loving it for about 6 weeks now.

  12. Niroj Manandhar
    December 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I don't know, but last time i tried touchpal x, the wave was wierd and didn't work as much i'd want and the RAM usage was also high. Then i switched to SwiftKey and haven't looked back. Swyping without lifting a finger is fast and accurate most of the time and the cloud sync allows you to sync through multiple devices. And i have turned off some settings on Swiftkey to run it just between 17-25 mb of RAM and greenify kills it when the screen is off. (I have an old SGS I9000)

    But as this is free, i can check it out to check if anything has changed.

  13. Dave H
    December 19, 2013 at 4:23 am

    I'm a cheapskate, so I took up Touchpal X when Swype Beta expired and became a paid app. As long as it knows what my big ol' fingers want to type, I'm happy. It's much more intelligent than other free keyboards out there.

  14. TouchPal X team
    December 19, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Thanks to Mr Zukerman for this constructive article! TouchPal X's memory doesn't surpass SwiftKey's one.

  15. Skrell
    December 18, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I also would like to know the memory footprint.

    • Erez Z
      December 19, 2013 at 7:22 am

      Right now, it runs 2 processes, 1 service, altogether taking up 24MB on my phone (Xperia Z1 running stock Sony firmware).

  16. Bill
    December 18, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    What is the memory footprint? I'd love to dump SwiftKey as its a memory hog.

  17. Matt L.
    December 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    TouchPal has been my favorite for a while - for the simple genius of swiping up to get a capital letter and down to get a number or symbol. That saves SO much time compared to pressing "caps" or switching to the alternate symbol page. My only gripe is the autocorrection - when I am done typing a word and press space, sometimes it thinks I am trying to type a bigger word (the one that it is suggesting first), so pressing space enters that word. It's not a big enough issue to warrant returning to one of the other keyboards though.

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