Keyboards on Android devices are robust. They know what’s going on in your head; I mean, even before you type the next letter, they suggest what your next word will be, surprising, right? Well, apart from predicting text, keyboards on Android devices have another powerful feature; the clipboard.
This clipboard remembers all the things you have copied and lets you access them in the blink of an eye. Although clipboards are powerful, they had a privacy flaw before Android version 10. This flaw enabled third party applications running in the background to access all the information in the clipboard without user permissions.
This enabled apps to access sensitive information like copied passwords and credit card details without user permissions. Therefore, to protect user privacy Google disabled this feature. Although this feature offered better privacy, it disabled cross-platform clipboard access.
So if you were using apps like Clipsync and Clipcloud to access clipboard data from your Android device, your workflows were broken after upgrading to Android 10. So how do you get back to accessing clipboard data and being a productivity ninja?
Well, you install the Swiftkey keyboard on your device, and all your problems will be solved. In this guide, we will help you configure the Swiftkey keyboard so that you can sync the keyboard data from your Android device to your Windows system.
To use cross-platform sync functionality you need to have a Windows system running Windows 10 October 2018 update or later.
How to setup Swiftkey keyboard on Android?
Microsoft acquired the Swiftkey keyboard in 2016; it has an excellent user interface and is easy to configure on any Android device. To enable clipboard access between your Windows and Android device, you need to get the Swiftkey keyboard from the play store and configure it as your default keyboard.
To get the same, you can click on this link. Once you have installed the app, follow the steps given below:
- Open the Swiftkey keyboard app on your device and login into your Microsoft account.
- Click on Rich input on the app’s homepage.
- Go to Clipboard.
- Toggle the button next to Sync clipboard history.
Make sure that you are logged into the same Microsoft account on your Android and Windows device. If not, cross-platform sync will not work.
How to setup Swiftkey keyboard on Windows?
Just like on your Android device, setting up clipboard access on Windows takes just a few steps.
Step 1: Head to Settings on your Windows system by clicking on the gear icon after pressing the Windows key.
Step 2: Click on System.
Step 3: Head to the Clipboard.
Step 4: Toggle the button next to Clipboard history and Sync across devices.
Once you have performed the steps given above, you will be able to access the last item you copied on your Android device through your Windows clipboard. To open the clipboard on your Windows system, press the Windows + V key.
Also read: Why is Copy and Paste not working? 10 fixes
Privacy and cross-platform syncing
An external application that can access all the data you type can be scary. So is the convenience of cross-platform syncing worth the privacy risks?
When it comes to features like cross-platform syncing, the data you type is sent to a cloud server to be retrieved by other devices. This shows that information needs to be collected to enable features like cross-platform syncing.
When it comes to Microsoft’s Swiftkey keyboard, this data is transmitted using encrypted channels, not stored or processed by Microsoft servers. In addition to this, data shared through the clipboard is only available for an hour and is removed from Microsoft servers later on.
That said, this is only part of the picture. To enable features like cross-platform syncing, you need to log in using a Microsoft account. Once you have done this, features like backup and Sync are enabled, and Microsoft starts collecting data to offer a personalised experience.
If you choose to, you can sign into SwiftKey with your Microsoft or Google account. Microsoft SwiftKey will then periodically send fragments of data about the words you use to a Microsoft cloud service. The service stores the fragments in a format that can be synchronised with any other devices where you use SwiftKey.via Microsoft Swiftkey support
Also, if you have said yes to the improve Microsoft prompt while setting up the app and have logged in using a Microsoft account, the following data will be shared.
If you are signed in, your keyboard sends fragments of data about words you use and how likely you are to type them together to a Microsoft cloud backup service. When you agree to share your typing data, these fragments will also be shared with a separate Microsoft product improvement service. As part of this process, your shared data fragments will be anonymized and any personal or unusual words will be removed.via Microsoft Swiftkey support
Password and Credit card information privacy
Another pressing issue of using third party keyboards is how they deal with password data and credit card information.
According to Microsoft, any data entered into a password field is not read or stored by Microsoft. That said, every time you enter a password into a password field after checking the show password check box, the field characteristics change from a password field to a text field, enabling Microsoft to read your passwords.
When it comes to credit card information, Microsoft states that the keyboard is designed not to collect data that contains long numbers.
Looking at all the data collected to enable cross-platform syncing, one can say that personalisation and productivity come at the cost of loss of privacy. That said, several privacy-centred features are available in the Swiftkey ecosystem that can help improve user privacy. More on that in the next section.
How to improve privacy on Swiftkey keyboard?
Although Microsoft collects a lot of data to offer personalisation to its users, several settings on the keyboard can reduce the amount of data sent to Microsoft servers.
Use Incognito mode while typing sensitive information
Microsoft tries to understand how you use different phrases to understand your typing patterns. If you don’t want Microsoft to analyse how you type, you can enable Incognito mode on your keyboard.
Once enabled, Microsoft will not collect any typing data, and this mode is auto-enabled when you have opened a private browsing session on a browser or are using Telegram’s secret chat.
To enable Incognito mode on your Android device, follow the steps given below:
- Click on a text field to open the keyboard on your device.
- Clcik on the inverted arrow keys to show the add-on toolbar.
- Click on the three dots and click on Incognito.
Apart from preventing you from Microsoft’s analytics, the data you copy will not be synced across devices when in incognito mode. Therefore, all your information will be private to you when using Incognito mode.
Prevent automatic data sync from your Windows system
Cross-platform syncing can be a great tool in your everyday workflows, but sometimes you don’t want the data you copied on your Windows device to be visible on your Android system.
To control how copied data moves from your Windows device to your Andriod system, you can set up manual syncing on your Windows device. To do the same, follow the steps given below:
Step 1: Head to Settings on your Windows system.
Step2: Click on System.
Step 3: Select the Clipboard option from the menu.
Step 4: Select the button next to Never automatically sync the text that I copy under Automatic syncing.
After making these changes, you can select the data that should sync across various devices.
To sync a particular snippet of data, use the Windows+V shortcut to open the clipboard, click on the three dots, and sync button to sync data to your Android device.
Should you use Swiftkey keyboard ?
Using a third-party keyboard as a daily driver to enjoy features like cross-platform syncing poses some privacy risks, and there have been some flaws with Microsoft’s Swiftkey ecosystem in the past.
In fact, back in 2016, some users could see the personal information of other users in their prediction bars due to a bug in the Swiftkey architecture. This goes to show that no system is full proof.
That said, if used with the right privacy settings, Swiftkey can make improvements to your workflows.
A tech enthusiast, driven by curiosity. A bibliophile who loves to travel. An Engineering graduate who loves to code and write about new technologies. Can’t sustain without coffee.
You can contact Nischay via email: [email protected]