Swalekh Keyboard Review: Phonetics Work, But Lacks Gesture Typing

India’s smartphone adoption is going through the roof, but a large portion of non-English speaking janta is being left out of this tech adoption race.
Reverie’s new Swalekh keyboard is looking to bridge the language gap in today’s technology, bringing support for 11 regional languages. The app is full of features that may sound overkill for a regular keyboard, but in reality they’re simple and pretty easy to get your head around.
Swalekh Keyboard (1)
Tooling around the app, we quickly ended up in the settings menu where the language selection option lies. Opening it up, we were immediately greeted to an unwelcome sign that the our device (Moto G) didn’t support a few of the 11 regional languages.
Pressing on, we put the keyboard’s English>Hindi/Tamil/Malayalam translation skills to the test and were surprised at its dexterity.
Swalekh Keyboard
Phonetic translations from English to regional languages is the centerpiece of Swalekh. Inputs generate several word suggestions, which for most of the time were pretty accurate. Given that regional language keyboards are often a pain to use because their layouts are not optimized, the phonetic mode is a real life saver.
In the native language mode, we found that typing got a lot slower since several characters required us to long-press keys to select them. Suggestions however were quite helpful in completing words, making the process of typing a lot easier.
We’re still waiting for a regional language keyboard that breaks the layout barriers often caused by the complexity of these languages.
Typing in regional languages on the Swalekh keyboard is great, but switching to full English mode is where the problem lies. There’s no support for gesture typing, and we couldn’t help but notice the complete lack of next-word suggestions. You could say Google Keyboard and Swiftkey have spoilt us, but Swalekh is clearly lacking here.
Overall, Swalekh is a great keyboard if you’re looking to communicate with friends and family in your native language, and could be powerful enough to replace your standard English keyboard. However, we suspect Swalekh will find its largest user base among the non-English speaking masses of India, for which it should actively grow the number of supported languages.
Download: Swalekh

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