Microsoft’s Flow keyboard for iPhone is surprisingly useful — Tech2
After using Windows 10 Mobile, iOS, Android and BB X, I can unhesitatingly state that my favourite mobile keyboard of all time is the one on Windows 10 Mobile. This would be closely followed by iOS’ default keyboard and Swiftkey on Android.
My daily driver is an iPhone 6 Plus and much as I like the keyboard on the device, the large size of the phone means that one-handed typing is a little hard, even more so considering that I’m a lefty, and juggling the phone to get the best grip is second nature now. I’ve been waiting for a good, Swiftkey-style keyboard for iOS and Microsoft seems to have just delivered that with Flow. On a side note, I’ve used Swiftkey on iOS and somehow, that keyboard just didn’t seem to work right on the iPhone.
Microsoft’s Flow keyboard is only available on the US iTunes store for now, but hopefully, we’ll see it arrive in the Indian store soon. The keyboard looks like a regular keyboard at first glance and while I’m personally not a fan of the aesthetics, it’s not bad at all. Strangely enough, instead of pop-up keys on tapping, you get Cortana’s blue holo ring.
The blue rings aside, I quite liked the keyboard. The keyboards needs a few minutes of hands-on time before you really settle in. Autocorrect learns as you type or swipe and while it was initially frustrating, the app picks up your style fast enough.
One of the key features of Flow is one-handed mode. There are two icons on the top of the device, on either side of the keyboard, and swiping on either of the icons makes the keyboard, there’s no other word for it, fan out from either the left or the right corner. Your thumb naturally flows over the keyboard in this mode, making it perfect for one-handed use. As a left-handed person myself, I couldn’t really take advantage of this. While the keyboard does fan out to the left just as well as it does to the right, iOS’ Send button remains stubbornly stuck to the right of the device. If you use the device one-handed with your right hand, it’s very comfortable.
I don’t know how useful the feature will be on an iPhone 6 or even the diminutive SE, but on the massive 6 Plus, it’s very handy. As an added bonus, you get the option to set your own theme (a background) and can even choose from your own collection of photos.
Microsoft Flow might be the best swipe keyboard on iOS yet, but I’ve only spent a day with it and can’t say that for certain just yet. Even at this early stage, I feel a subtler aesthetic should make the keyboard more palatable.
But that’s just me. What do you think of the keyboard?
Originally published at tech.firstpost.com on April 27, 2016.