Swiftkey, the customisable Android keyboard, has received an upgrade that adds emoji characters and a numbers bar.
The Swiftkey update, currently at version 4.5, adds two of the most-requested features to the popular keyboard app: a visible set of numbers above the top keyboard row, and emoticons that appear when the appropriate word is typed.
Easy access has existed in Swiftkey for some time, but it wasn't obvious; the numbers were hidden, and could only be seen with a long press of the top keyboard row. Now, an optional fifth row above the top keyboard row can be dedicated to always-visible numbers.
Swiftkey's emoji update is slightly more complicated. All available emoji icons are visible with a long press of the enter key in the lower right corner, but each emoticon can be accessed by typing its name on the keyboard. Type "pizza", for example, and as well as the auto-completed prediction for the word "pizza", a pizza emoji will also be available to select.
Since Swiftkey learns from your actions over time, if you usually select an emoticon following a particular word, the app will show you the word and emoticon together as a prediction to save time. Swiftkey uses the emoji icons included in the Android character-set; phones running Android 4.1 and up will be able to access a series of monochrome emoticons, while Android 4.4 handsets can use a full array of colour icons.
The Swiftkey 4.5 update is currently available as a beta, and is a free download from the Swiftkey blog, before it is delivered as an update to paid users of the app via the Google Play Store.