This was more than about time, this was totally overdue but finally it's coming, if only as a public Beta. As SwiftKey announced today on its blog, it has released a public Beta which brings an exciting new SwiftKey keyboard which delivers some of the most requested features including emoji support for over 500 fun images and an optional number row for those who want quicker access to number keys. Classic emoji allows to choose from more than 500 emoji across five categories: people, objects, nature, places and symbols. Also part of the Beta is emoji word match. As you type one of hundreds of keywords, you can opt to be offered emoji predictions in the candidate bar. For example, typing "Santa" will offer you a Christmas emoji in addition to word predictions.
However, if you aren't too much into emoji, this setting can also be disabled if you prefer to always have words predicted in the candidate bar. As always, SwiftKey 4.5 will learn from the personal use to suggest emoji regularly used. For example, if you regularly include an emoji after an individual's name, SwiftKey can learn to predict it, just for you.
The appearance of emoji can differ between different versions of Android and different apps. Emoji are only supported on Android Jellybean and KitKat (4.1 and later). SwiftKey uses the system emoji font which is black and white in Jellybean and color in KitKat. Some apps (eg WhatsApp) render the emoji within messages with app-specific fonts, often the same as seen on Apple devices. Google Hangouts uses the same color emoji font as KitKat. This means that although the meaning remains the same, the actual images may vary between apps and between the sending and receiving device.
Next feature update is the optional number row. SwiftKey 4.5 beta introduces the option of a dedicated number row on top of the keyboard for faster access to numbers, particularly for those with larger phone sizes. To find this setting, press and hold the 123 key, select Settings, then Theme & Layout, you can then tick or untick the Number Row option.
Cheers ~ Arne