As far as keyboard apps go, Microsoft’s SwiftKey is probably one of the best ones out there, right alongside Google’s Gboard. However, if you’re a SwiftKey user, you may have received an email from Google about SwiftKey not getting access to Gmail starting July 15.
For those of you who don’t use SwiftKey, or didn’t receive the email from Google, it basically told users that SwiftKey’s Gmail access will be revoked from July 15, if the developer didn’t make changes to comply with Google’s new policies.
Google’s email states that some apps (in this case SwiftKey) will not be able to access some data in users’ Google accounts (including Gmail content) from July 15th, if the “apps are unable to meet the deadline to comply with our updated data policy requirements.”
So what’s really the problem with SwiftKey’s use of Gmail, and why did only some people receive this email? Well, as part of SwiftKey’s learning of a user’s writing patterns and vocabulary, the app offers users the option to let SwiftKey access their emails in order to learn how they type, and recommend better spell-checks and word suggestions. However, SwiftKey’s permissions for Gmail access are sweeping and quite scary. The app asks for permission to “View, manage, and permanently delete your mail in Gmail”, “Create, update, and delete labels”, and “Compose and send new email”
@SwiftKey I've received below email from Google. I still use the feature of learning from my gmail account using swiftkey board. pic.twitter.com/hzl40uh8O5
— Aquib Qureshi (@AquibQureshi26) June 26, 2019
Under Google’s new data policies, apps are prohibited from accessing more data than they actually need access to, and apps that require access to Gmail are required to get further permissions from Google. Unless SwiftKey either removes these permissions, or gets Google’s permission to access Gmail accounts, the app’s Gmail integration will no longer work after 15th of July.
That said, I wouldn’t recommend allowing a third-party keyboard app to not only read your email, but also send, manage, and permanently delete items in your inbox; that just sounds like a horrifying amount of permissions for a keyboard app. I’d rather not train it.