Two months with Swype

By Dave Elkan

I’m writing this review on my Android powered HTC Desire using a new, custom keyboard called Swype.

Swype allows you to type whilst barely lifting your finger from the screen. As the name suggests, you swype your finger from letter to letter instead of tapping. This constructs a sort of letter trail which, once you lift your finger is inspected and the top ranking word from the letters you swyped is inserted. If there is more than one match, it will offer up a list of suggested words.

Other ham-fisted, clumsy typers like me will be happy to know that the trail by no means has to pass directly over each letter. Rather, as long as the trail is roughly near a letter it will be added to the mix, albeit with less priority (I think). When you experience this for the first time you realise that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you might first think.

The experience of swyping is not second nature to anyone and there is a period of time where you find yourself wanting to revert to the default keyboard. However, for the persistent and forgiving, the reward with sticking with it will deliver a faster typing speed. How much faster? Fast enough to win a place in the Guiness Book of Records for the fastest text message typed, that’s how fast!

Speed, though, goes hand in hand with inaccuracy. At times I’ve found myself swyping in the wrong direction or blindly selecting the top most (and also wrong) suggestion, which is done automatically when you start swyping the next word.

So despite Swype being a totally different experience to a conventional on screen keyboard it’s easily withstood the hardest test of all. Not being noticed.

I’ve had Swype as my keyboard for over two months now and haven’t even thought of turning it off.

The beta has closed, but judging by the total lack of crashes I’ve experienced, the full version should be out shortly.

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