Unicode 8 has arrived at last. Yes, folks, you may now use the unicorn as much as you want. Well, kinda. Unicode 7 took forever to be widely implemented, even on the mobile devices we most expect emoji from. Despite the fact that Google and Apple are part of the Unicode consortium, they've got bigger fish to fry like plummeting stock and a failed gadget release.
On the other hand, third party developers behind SwiftKey only care about making their keyboard as useful as possible. As a long time Swype user, I'm impressed. I never paid attention before because their main selling point seemed to be themes. It also cost money.
They provide fairly accurate predictability, similar to that of Swype (which far exceeds even the Google Keyboard). There are some other nice customization options that Swype doesn't have and it seems to have everything Swype has, minus the gestures.
But it has really accessible emoji support. Given their new relationship with the Unicode Consortium, I imagine they'll be the first to give us good support for 8 and next summer's 9, which will give us a face palm at long last. That should prove useful to the thumb aching fools using standard soft keyboards and lame old emotions. ;-) 👎
It's also great to see they are an open source-friendly company. SwiftKey may not be freely licensed, but they have an organization on GitHub with repos that at least show some activity this year. Everyone's got to start somewhere. At least they're not freedom haters. In fact, their latest Greenhouse project, Clarity, which is essentially a testing ground for upcoming features, uses the Eclipse-licensed Lispy-goodness, Clojure!
As for Ubuntu, it's hard to say when we'll see Unicode 8 support. I would consider it a priority for Ubuntu developers, at least for the other additions to Unicode 8 that seem like they would be to Ubuntu's larger internationalization effort. There's even some new glyphs for Ubuntu's home continent of Africa. My guess is we'll see it soon. However, I think it's clear that Ubuntu phones will be lagging around those of us who still use Android (or iOS, but who does that?).