Typing the familiar “Hello, how are you?” every morning in your WhatsApp may be a routine you have come to tolerate. As well as entering the same information in the corresponding fields when registering for the new accounts. Typing on mobile, however, is still far from what it needs to be to make users productive to the extent needed by many people. With all the abundance of the keyboard apps on mobile, many users still loathe performing some typing related tasks from their devices.
Enter Texpand. It’s a lightweight and privacy non-intrusive app for Android that lets you create text shortcuts and expand them into lengthy phrases as you type, literally on the go. The app works with most Android apps, and in my tests it worked perfectly fine with a browser address bar, Gmail, WhatsApp, note taking apps, registration fields within the apps and whatever I could come up with as a test. Here is a brief review of how it works and what it can do.
Before you start
The app does not require any registration, so you can get to work right away. The only thing you need to do before you can use it is enable Texpand in the Accessibility Settings of your device. That way the app will be able to interact with what you type.
Now you can create your shortcuts, and the app’s UI and Menus are dead simple. Tap + icon at the bottom right corner and enter the shortcut, the phrase, and define how the text expands – immediately and within words. You can also add a description for your shortcut.
The greatest challenge here is to memorize the shortcuts because you can not use a shortcut that is a part of the phrase. For example, if you want to save the phrase “What’s up, dude?” you can’t have the “dude” for shortcut. I am sure there is a rock solid explanation for this code-wise, but it also makes you look for the alternatives to the shortcut you cam up with in the first place, and those might be not so easy to memorize. But after having used the shortcuts for a couple of times, you get used to the simplicity and functionality, so it’s a minor nag anyway.
From then on, whenever you type the shortcut, Texpand automatically enters the corresponding phrase, and it’s a bliss. The app does not affect the performance of the apps it’s interacting with, nor does it affect the device’s performance overall.
If you forget the shortcut, you don’t need to go look in the Texpand for a clue. The app will analyze what you are trying to say and display suggestions in the floating window. You can select the suggested phrase, and you can also drag it to the required field if it’s different from where your cursor currently is.
As I said, Texpand worked seamlessly with all the apps I tried it with, including my browser. But in the case of the browser, the app expanded my shortcut in the address bar, and not in the Google search field. The thing is the app does not work with browser and word processors that are not developed using standard SDK, as well as with apps using special input fields like the terminal apps. Texpand is compatible with the apps using standard EditText widget for Android. That’s how it is now, and there is not much the developer can do about it as of now.
Another point to keep in mind is to never use Texpand to keep your passwords – that would be a major flop on your patr. The app is not encrypted, nor is it password-protected, so keeping your passwords there would seriously compromise your security. However, you might notice that in the app expands your shortcuts in the password fields when the passwords are not obscured by asterics, but are displayed. That way, the app views the field as a simple text field. You get the idea – don’t store your passwords unless they are totally not important.
The one thing to note is there are two versions of Texpand – a free and a Pro version that costs $3. The limitation of the Free version is that it allows you to save ten entries only. The Pro version removes the cap and adds another nifty feature—Import text expansion data from Google or AOSP keyboard.
Texpand lets you create shortcuts for really lengthy or complex phrases, such as addresses, titles, and all that frequently used arsenal of phrases that involve upper and lower case characters, special characters and digits, and all that keyboard jazz.
Another nifty feature of the app is it lets you set the dynamic values for the current dates, time, or even the contents of your Clipboard. And it’s easy. Below the phrase field, there is a “dynamic values” expandable menu, where you can use multiple items. For example, you wish to create a shortcut for the current date and time. So, you choose the hours first, then minutes, then the date format according to your preferences – day first, or month first. You can also choose to have the day and month as digit values, short names or full names, as well as the short or full year. Once created, the shortcut will expand the current time and date whenever you need.
The app is great for expanding phone numbers, addresses, emails, full names, Clipboard contents, you name it. It does it lightning fast and significantly saves you the typing time and effort.
The app lets you create backups of your shortcuts and save them to Google Drive to use them on other devices. The pro version also lets you import your shortcuts from the Android keyboard.
Finally, you may argue there is a multitude of other apps that do just that, including the keyboard apps (Fleksy, SwiftKey). I have tried some, and they did not perform as smoothly, or were resource-hungry, or had privacy invasive tendencies. Texpand is quite the opposite. It’s easy to use, performs flawlessly and does what it is meant to do – make your typing a tad faster.
- Lightweight, does not affect the performance
- Works with most apps
- Free and Pro versions
- Expands dynamic values like the current date, time or the current Clipboard contents
- Shows suggestions as you type
- Its compatibility is limited to the TextEdit widget based apps built with the standard Android SDK, so some issues may arise with its use in the browsers
- Lollipop-only. DOes not work with older OS versions
Texpand is a very neat, non-intrusive app that lets you create shortcuts for your lengthy frequently used phrases, dynamic values like time and date, or Clipboard contents and expand them in nearly any application. It might have an issue with browsers, but I’ve tried it with my browser’s address bar, and it worked. In other cases, it works seamlessly with chat apps and email apps, so the next time I need to write a lengthy polite phrase to the serious, adult people, I will type “hi” and the app will expand “Dear Dennis, with reference to our telephone conversation on Monday, I would like to let you know that…”