It's April Fools' Day, and techies everywhere are getting in on the mischief. Given the Internet's default fondness for ephemera and utterly pointless gestures, a day when pranks are sanctioned (or perhaps even expected) generally doesn't disappoint. Usually, some of the best jokes are total malarkey.
But this year a British company called SwiftKey, which makes an intelligent touchscreen keyboard app for mobile devices, appears to have coded an Easter egg into its latest release that's a functional -- if not necessarily practical -- joke. The feature, called SwiftKey Tilt, claims to offer a "full-body typing experience that allows users to use motion to enter text," according to Phandroid.
In a whimsical video announcement posted to YouTube on April 1, employees at SwiftKey headquarters demonstrate how the would-be feature works by flailing their arms and bodies around while their smartphones translate these movements into letters. The video touts a "whole-body typing experience" that reminds us of Google's epic Gmail Motion prank from April Fools' Day 2011.
No, SwiftKey Tilt won't actually revolutionize the way you send messages. But you might as well go ahead and give it a try -- as long as you don't have a bad back.
Unlike the entirely fictitious Google Nose prank that Google just announced for April Fools' Day 2013, folks with the latest version of SwiftKey can try Tilt now. Apparently it helps if you have another feature, called Flow, installed.
PC Magazine reported that accessing the feature can be tricky, but Phandroid spelled it out simply:
If you have SwiftKey installed, simply type the word ’tilt’ at any input screen, long-press the prediction, and tap “SwiftKey Tilt.”
To disable Tilt, just close the keyboard.
Update: April 1, 3:30 p.m. -- In an email to The Huffington Post, Joe Braidwood, chief marketing officer at SwiftKey, said that the company plans to sunset the Tilt feature in its next update, but that if there's enough demand to keep it, they might reconsider.
Braidwood confirmed that Tilt was quietly coded into the last update for SwiftKey, and said that the company had been working on the gag since early 2013. He woud not comment on whether the motion-sensitive technology in Tilt will be used in future features, other than to note that the company has been "asking similar questions about ways to extend the reach of our technology."