My Thoughts About Swype

In a blog post, Robert Nelson asks his readers their opinion on Swype. Swype is an alternate on-screen keyboard for many mobile phones and while it is included with some Android phones, it is currently in beta. An earlier post that I wrote includes a video of how Swype works.

You type with Swype by sliding your finger over the on-screen keyboard, stopping at the letters that you want to enter. Swype includes recognition software that predicts which letter you intended so that the stop does not have to occur at precisely the right letter. People who are proficient at Swype can type very fast, even setting world records.

I have been using Swype as the main keyboard on my Nexus One for two weeks, and I have a couple of thoughts about it. First, it appears to be optimized for using the keyboard in portrait and I find it awkward to swype across the keyboard with my Nexus One in landscape. You can type on the Swype keyboard by tapping the letters on the keyboard, just like the built-in keyboard, but the landscape version of Swype has a huge flaw because the space bar is not at the bottom center of the keyboard, instead it is at the bottom right.

In portrait I can swype most words very quickly, but I do find myself frequently slowing down as I have to think about the direction in which I need to slide my finger. My brain is trained to use the QWERTY keyboard and I never have the problem with the Android keyboard of knowing the location of the key I want to tap, the problem is with the accuracy of pressing the right button. Using Swype forces me to think about location and that does slow me down.

I do think that Swype is a good alternative to the traditional on-screen QWERTY keyboard, and I expect that as I use it more the swype pattern of certain words will become familiar enough that I won’t have to think about them as much. When it becomes available I recommend that you at least try it out and see if it works for you.