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A new year and fitter than ever: SwiftKey for Android reveals performance updates

17th January 2019

Happy 2019! It wouldn’t be the start of a new year if we weren’t all feeling just a touch sluggish lingering from December. This year, though, SwiftKey is emerging from the holiday season as fit and fast as ever. We’re kicking off 2019 by lifting the curtain on some performance improvements we’ve been working on over the last year – including a reduction in lag of over 50%.

  

Thanks to lots of hard work across the team, we’ve seen the following improvements on SwiftKey Keyboard:  

  • SwiftKey is on average 20% faster loading than our closest competitor across a range of devices*, and as much as twice as fast on first load after a phone restart 
  • SwiftKey has the smallest app install size on fresh install – without sacrificing features or functionality – on some devices this is as much as half the size 
  • Internal testing shows improved frame rendering, reducing lag by over 50%, even on older phones 

So how did we get here? We believe that regardless of the device you’re using, how many languages you speak, or the sheer number of GIFs you like to share in your messages, your technology should keep pace with you. Keeping SwiftKey – and you – fast is a top priority for us.  

With this priority, there are quite a few things to keep in mind. Mobile developers on any platform need to be mindful of the technical limitations of the handsets running our apps. Striking the right balance between providing a robust set of features alongside remarkable speed and relatively low memory consumption is difficult – and made even more complicated when you take into consideration the thousands of different devices and configurations, as is the case on Android.  

Our team uses three layers of in-house testing and real-world monitoring to give us critical information as we build new functionality or features before delivering them to your device: 

  1. Every code change to our keyboard is individually performance tested in our in-house testing environment that ensures the keyboard open speed and install size remain fast and small.
  2. We monitor real performance measures after each release (especially during beta testing), ensuring we’re improving the performance on the full range of devices our users around the world use on a day-to-day basis. If we do detect a problem, we can ‘patch’ a release to remove an issue as quickly as possible and update our in-house testing to better detect the problem in the future.
  3. Finally, we benchmark our keyboard against competitors regularly to assess keyboard open speed across a range of devices. 

What’s most exciting about these improvements to us is that we’ve delivered a sleek, fast SwiftKey despite the many feature-driven updates to SwiftKey Keyboard, all designed to make your keyboard experience even more personalized to you. Updates this year included 10 new Sticker packs (introducing exclusive partnerships with Halo and Skype), 24 new language models to integrating Microsoft Translator and the ability to search and share.  

We’re committed to delivering all SwiftKey features in a fully optimized package – let us know how you’re doing or how we can help on Twitter! 

Cheers,
Olli and all of our SwiftKey engineering team 

 

* SwiftKey 7.1.7, GBoard 7.6.13, Baidu 8.2.1, TouchPal 6.9.1 were fresh installed on the Alcatel 1T, ZTE Tempo X, Nokia One, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Huawei Y7 Prime, and Moto G4. Tests were repeated 100 times and averaged across devices. Devices were set to English US, but our real-world metrics show similar performance for SwiftKey to our in-house testing across the large range of devices and languages our users own and speak.