Swype is swell

Image representing Swype as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Swype is a new kind of keyboard for typing on mobile devices that more and more commonly lack a physical keyboard these days. I’m just starting to use it for the first time myself but I’m quickly getting the hang of it and I’m already writing this post as fast as I would be if I were doing the old two finger dance across a regular “keyboard” on my phone. (Yes, I’m writing this post on my phone and no, they don’t offer medication for that.)

Typing is the wrong word to use to describe what you do with Swype though, because the word “typing” brings up visions of one smacking away on a bunch of keys. Whereas with Swype you, well… swipe…duh.

The basic idea is that instead of wasting extra time by lifting your fingers off of the keyboard once for each letter you only need to do so once for each word.

It’s actually quite cool; just look at these people react to seeing it in action for the first time. Once you get used to it, especially how to make corrections when you’re off a little bit too much, (which is a little more often in the very beginning), I can see how easy it would be to go incredibly fast!

The real trick, I’ve found, is to put a little extra faith in Swype’s ability to do the right thing. If that sounds at all familiar, that’s because that is the same advice that was generally floating around for people using the iPhone with it’s auto-correction feature. With Swype, even if you miss a key or two and even if you miss them a wee bit wildly, Swype does an incredible job of figuring out what you meant. In my case it’s even did the right thing even though my brain, in a fit of panicky confusion over what I was telling it to do, had my finger twirling on the wrong side of the keyboard altogether. In other words, you can be more than a little off and most of the time that’s still perfectly OK. It may even be preferable to allow your accuracy to be a bit more lax in the interest of speed.

At the same time though, even if you’re much too wildly off or enter something that is a bit ambiguous, there’s still hope because Swype will then pop-up a box that 9 times out of 10 will have the word you were trying for ready to go on what I prefer to call, the short list; well because it’s a list and it’s short.

To enter words even faster, you can also skip using the short list at the very moment when it comes up so you can maintain both the timing and flow of your writing. Then when you are done Swyping, you can go back to any words that are wrong and double tap them to bring up the short list for that word again.

Not pausing while writing does wonders for your speed because making decisions while keeping the language you are trying to express in your head will slow you down a lot. Also, most of the time, when the short list pops up with the word that it merely “thinks” you’re trying to write it’s actually the correct one that it will use as the default anyway, so pausing your writing to select it wastes time unnecessarily.

Swype definitely has the makings of being the future of input technology and my hat is off to the developers, not just for the idea itself, but for what I can only describe as a near flawless execution. In fact, I’d be speechless if it weren’t for the fact that Swype is so damned fun to use that I just want to keep on typing… er…. I mean Swyping!


~ by ghendar on December 3, 2010.

2 Responses to “Swype is swell”

  1. Swype was the deal-clincher for me when choosing a new smart phone. It is so much faster then trying to “type” on tiny keys.

  2. Can I have a swype for mouth, so that only what I want to say comes out and I get a second to re-think what I’m saying? I’d pay big money for that…..

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