Archive for the ‘Blackberry’ Tag

Swype – saving grace of the touchscreen smartphone

Swype

Swype

I’ve been doing this smartphone thing for over 7 years now… in smartphone years, that’s ancient history.  And I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about an application than I am right now, about Swype.  I know it’s cliché, but I truly believe that Swype is not an evolutionary software keyboard, but rather a revolutionary one.

I’m going to do a lengthy lead-in to the review, so just skip the next couple paragraphs if you don’t care.

Let me describe to you my smartphone history.  I started out on the Palm spectrum (may they rest in peace).  Being a texter, rather than an a talker, I immediately appreciated the nice thumb keyboard they provided.  I used several Palm models before hopping over to Blackberry, again, because of their fantastic keyboards.  Also, I’ve used a few Windows Mobile phones, including the Moto Q (series) and the Samsung Epix, all known for their spacious hardware keyboards.  I like me a nice keyboard.

The first time I agreed to try to use a software-only keyboard was on the iPhone.  I had convinced myself that it was going to be ok, and for the most part it was… for 3 months.  That’s all I could take.  I then tried the iPhone 3G.  I thought maybe they improved… nope.

I’ve had two problems with software keyboards I’ve tried:

1) I find it difficult or impossible to type with two thumbs.  I don’t remember if the original iPhone had a multi-touch keyboard, but even if it did I had a heck of a time learning how to use it.  My fingers wouldn’t know where to go, since I couldn’t see the letters (thumbs were covering them), I ended up typing with just my index finger.

2) I’ve tried landscape mode to remedy the whole “can’t see letters” problem, but having the keyboard cover up half the screen is not a good alternative.

Enter Swype.

This thing about lifting your fingers for letters?  Don’t bother.  Occasionally miss a letter because you’re going too fast?  No worries!1 Shifted an entire word a little to the left?  You’re covered.

This thing has me back on gTalk on my phone, because now I can enter text in a speed approaching that needed for real-time conversation.  There are some options relating to speed of entry and accuracy, but for the most part the thing runs itself.  It will show you the path your finger has taken (if you allow it), and I’ve noticed that many times, even if I entirely omit a letter or two, it correctly presents me with my desired word in one of the pop-up options.  It is not, of course flawless: I’ve been using it for several weeks now, and at my desired setting (I asked it to think less and execute faster), I have about an 80% hit rate.  That’s just my perception and is not scientific, so don’t bother dissecting it.  My one complaint is that I don’t know whether I’ve confused it until I’ve swyped the entire word, and then I have to reswype the entire thing.

For more information, visit www.swypeinc.com.

1 I must admit both the iPhone and the latest offerings from HTC solve this pretty well too.

image: http://onlygizmos.com/content/2009/11/swype.jpg

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