After years of beta releases, Nuance has released Swype Keyboard on Google Play. It’s currently available for $0.99 cents, with no additional in-app purchases.
Swype became famous as one of the first touchscreen keyboards to allow input by sliding your finger across the letters of the word, opposed to tapping for each individual letter, space and punctuation mark. Swype has seen numerous competitors release keyboard apps with similar features, but Swype’s extensive language list, customization options, smart autocorrect, and number of gestures, have allowed Swype to stand out from its competition. When first opened, Swype will walk users through its basic functions, set up customization, and download any requested language packs. From there, it’s all a matter of choosing the preferred input method and getting acclimated to the system.
Swype has quite a few input methods, but the one that stands out is swiping. Presented with a standard QWERTY keyboard, users will place their finger on the first letter of a word, and then drag across each following letter. When the word is complete, users will lift their finger to indicate a space and begin swiping the next word. Punctuation and capitalization can be done by tapping the appropriate keys or by swiping the appropriate gestures. Gestures are frequently used to make up for the areas where Swype may become confused, such as capitalizing proper nouns or ending a sentence. Some gestures are quick and simple, like swiping from “x” to the space key, which creates an exclamation point. Other gestures take a bit more time, and may require selecting an option from the predictive text menu.
Nuance has long boasted that Swype is the fastest way to type on a smartphone. Those who have been using Swype (or similar programs) for years tend to agree with that statement. However, users who are experiencing Swype for the first time may need a while to get used to it. The more familiar someone is with the QWERTY keyboard layout and the size of their device, the quicker they are likely to adapt. That said, users should still expect to make numerous errors during the learning process. Fortunately, Swype’s system adapts to each user’s nuances. Even if a user is making numerous mistakes early on, taking the time to correct those errors allows Swype to better understand what the user is trying to say.
Users who don’t like the default Swype input can opt to enter text in a handful of other ways. The simplest alternative is the tapping method used with most devices’ default keyboards. In this case, Swype does its job well, but doesn’t bring anything unique to the table. Both swiping and tap inputs come with various display sizes when used on a tablet. Smaller layouts are geared toward replicating Swype on a phone, while larger settings allow easier tap input. Swype also allows a handwriting mode that attempts to interpret what a user is writing on the screen. This method is the slowest of the bunch as each word needs to be entered separately, and is often misread. Voice-to-text users are treated to Dragon Dictation, based on Nuance’s computer software of the same name. Swype’s voice-to-text makes few errors and adapts well to the user’s way of speaking. Voice-to-text fans will find that Swype is one of the best options on Android.
Those willing to take the time to become fluent in Swype’s mechanics are likely to love the system and see an increase in their on-screen typing speed. Even with the speed potential, Swype is not for everyone and many users will likely opt for a more traditional keyboard experience, which Swype happily provides. Swype’s extensive customization, adaptation, and voice-to-text make it well worth the $0.99 cent price tag.
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