Swype for Android

New York Times columnist extraordinaire David Pogue's given the Droid X for a spin, and in turn he's spun-off a bit about the phone's keyboards. It has a multitouch keyboard by default -- I can take it or leave it. But the X also has Swype. You've seen our interview and demo with the Swype folks back at CTIA, and good many of you got in on the latest beta round (which has since closed).

As for Pogue, he's not completely convinced Swype is the second coming of on-screen keyboards, though he does write that "there's a lot of brilliance in Swype." And his gripes are completely reasonable (lack of open availability, swiping from one end of the keyboard to another for short words). And that's cool. One user's perfect keyboard is another's speed bump. (For what it's worth, I'm on board now, though it took a little while.) Give his column a read and see if you agree. [NYT]

What about you guys? Who all's come over to the Swype way of life?

 

Reader comments

David Pogue not totally sold on Swype, but what about you?

61 Comments

I second that completely! I had been using ShapeWriter on my Evo then I tried Swype when the beta became open again and I promptly switched back to ShapeWriter.

Definitely agree. Shapewriter is faster and smarter. I don't have to loop for double letters, and I don't have to tell it that I mean "I" when I type "I". That said, Swype is better for touch typing words that aren't in the dictionary.

And because I prefer Shapewriter, I'm boycotting the survey in this article.

Shapewriter may be smarter, but I'm still dumb.

There is something about discrete key presses that is normal and natural having done it all my life.

But when sliding my finger around I forget where I am in the word and have to think about where I want to go for the next letter.
The chances of me making it thru any reasonable length word without a pause long enough to trigger a word break is slim to none.

Its just not intuitive, and the accuracy required is no less than for the keyboard.

Swipe and Shapewriter are huge pigs compared to the standard keyboard, and because they can't ever be paged out, they slow the phone down by hogging memory. (Not nearly as much as the News/Weather app that comes stock).

You need to know the Swype shortcuts to give it a fair shake. For example, the way to write "I" reliably is to drag from "I" to the spacebar. This makes it clear that you want to write the word "I" and makes it so you don't have to press the "I" precisely followed by the keyboard (just swipe roughly from "I" to spacebar).

Works great on my EVO. I resisted going to a virtual keyboard for a looong time...the EVO is my first...and Swype makes me a lot less unhappy about not having a full QWERTY on my phone. Thanks, Swype!

Have to say that as a 100+ GWAM myself, I feel as if Swype trumps normal input. Typing on a traditional keyboard is nothing like using your thumbs to punch out a message on a touch screen. Its not difficult but with Swype it's so much more efficient. Sometimes it gives me words that are light years away from what I was actually putting in but most times it is extremely forgiving.

In terms of input speed and practicality, Swype is a must have. Inventoried the shape quiet our whatever but I should. Always open to more efficient ways of getting ish done.

And people keep saying circling a letter sucks for double letter input or whatever, but just a little squiggle on the letter does the trick. Auto spacing, sometimes you have to manually type things in, but all in all Swype is "baller."

"Inventoried the shape quiet our whatever but I should."

I'm guessing "I haven't tried the shape writer or whatever but I should."

As I stated in a comment below, this is a serious problem with the Swype IME. I think it annoys me more trying to figure out what people mean to say instead of what swyping has typed out.

And as I said before, not a slam on you, but on the engine itself.

"Inventoried the shape quiet our whatever but I should."

That should read; "I haven't tried shape writer or whatever but I should." SWYPE STRIKES! But seriously, most of the time it's spot on and then all of a sudden you get something like that. It's ok to live with, most of the time people get what you're saying unless you get a "peru ducked up" which has now become standard for "pretty f*cked up."

-_-

Wasn't letting me edit, either.

hah yeah man, that's the worst it'll get. i totally get how some would be put off, i hate the fact that I have a word in the dictionary but sometimes it just doesn't show ... I'll remove and re-add and I still get a word that I have NEVER swyped ... it can be tiresome but i'd say the mass majority of the time I have no issues like that.

but when it happens, people are undoubtedly shaking their damn head and trying to figure out what happened

Tried it with a very open mind and couldn't get myself to like it.

As a 75wpm touch typist on a real keyboard, it is much easier for my brain to convert to typing with my thumbs than to do the swypey thing. I found my brain to be unwilling to make the shift (no pun intended.)

For some reason when I'm using 1 finger instead of 2 thumbs my brain forgets where the keys are and I can't look to find them mid-swipe because my finger is in the way. But when I'm using 2 thumbs I barely have to look because my touchtyping brain mapping still works that way.

I have to wonder if those who can 'type' really fast with swype keyboards were formerly touch typists or if they're all converted hunt-and-peckers.

For some reason when I'm using 1 finger instead of 2 thumbs my brain forgets where the keys are and I can't look to find them mid-swipe because my finger is in the way.

Exactly! This is so true.

I forget how to spell the word, then I forget where the next letter is on the keyboard, and while I think about that Shapewriter thinks I want a word break.

Me too, I tried it for almost 2 weeks and today I went back. I thought it was good at first but I get more mistakes with Swype. I think it's the concept of typing that I missed and the word suggestions are helpful from the default keyboard.

The "swipe" part of Swype stopped working when I upgraded my N1 to Froyo. Is that what other folks have seen?

I recently had to remove Swype from my Hero (long ROM-fail story) and have had the hardest time adjusting to the standard keyboard again (AOSP, no Sense.)

Sure, I had only been using Swype for two weeks but SERIOUSLY... it's so much faster!
I won't own a phone without Swype now!

I've really been enjoying it on my Incredible for the past couple of weeks. The first few days were a bit tough because I couldn't see the keyboard under my finger, but now I don't think I can go back to the stock keyboard. It amazes me how well it picks up on obscure words or proper nouns. And if I ever feel like hunting-and-pecking again, I still can.

Swype doesn't work on my Incredible, I mean its on but it doesn't recognize anything I swipe. I was even doing simple stuff like "the" and it just sat there chirping at me.

How come there wasnt a choice for Swype sucks ?? That would have been my vote , I hate that keyboard

I have gripes about both Swype and ShapeWriter. I feel like if both dev teams would work together they could release a killer swiping keyboard... Both projects as they stand now feel very unpolished but they do show a lot of promises.

I made it into Swype's last beta round. It's been on my Droid for a little over two weeks now and after a few days of getting use to it I find it incredibly fast and easy to use. No plans on upgrading to a different Android unless it includes Swype.

I tried Swype and Shapewriter.

Shapewriter is much easier for me to use. I keep going back to Swype to give it another try but it just isn't as easy to use for me as ShapeWriter.

I'm also going to give SwiftKey another try.

The bad part about all of the options is the learning curve. After you have made it through the learning curve for the keyboard that seems to work for you, well, you are just less inclined to bother with learning another one.

Honestly, I didn't see the big deal with Swype...until I added it to my droid. I'm not saying I'll never use another on-screen keyboard (as I like SmartKeyboard Pro), but this has DEFINITELY cut back on my physical keyboard usage quite dramatically actually. It has a few kinks to work out but I love it!

I love Swype but I have a few problems with it. Sometimes it becomes unresponsive and won't accept any inputs. I'm chalking that up to its beta status. And it has hard times with words that are short or in the same row, such as "TO". It also thinks I typed "TYPO". But I also blame that on the qwerty keyboarded was designed to slow down typing. I wonder how a Dvorak Swype keyboard would work...

Ugh. People *still* believe the "qwerty was intended to slow down typists" myth? You can never get rid of a well established urban legend, I guess.

I am a touch typist who types about 75 words per minute. Swyping makes my head hurt sometimes because I can't remember where the keys are when moving my finger around, but if you give me my thumb or index finger, I can type the word out easily (even when I'm not looking at the on-screen keyboard).

I like the concept, but it keeps bringing up the wrong word when I want to type "when" - and there's no way to stop this! That alone drives me crazy.

I like the concept of Swyping but I think I might be better suited to another keyboard. A lot of the time, even with the Android stock keyboard, I type faster and more accurately than with Swype!

Pogue is a biased iphone fan boy. He's only saying that because he can't get it on his precious iphone.

I had a hard time with Swype for the first day or two but after that initial phase, it is soooo much better/faster than the stock keyboards.

Using it on EVO since the beta re-opened up.

I am an old world touch typer (65 words per minute.) I have been thumb keyboarding for years. Got in on swype beta two weeks ago. At first I had trouble seeing through my finger to letters of keyboard but after practice it is becoming like touch typing knowing where the keys are under my fingers without seeing them. I like this much better than thumb typing.

Swype is, quite literally, revolutionary. When I was first using the Droid in November, having come from featurephones, the touch keyboard was impossible to adapt to. I'm also a touch typist and type in the neighborhood of 120 WPM. When Swype came along, I was able to keep up the speed and accuracy that I am used to from a regular keyboard.

I think a lot of Swypers don't read the docs, and learn how to add and remove words from the dictionary, or use the shortcuts with the Swype key. My most commonly used non-dictionary words are now at easy reach from a swipe.

I still use my Droid's hardware keyboard, but it's either that or Swype.

--
Brandon
droidbros.com

I have it installed just because I like the way the keyboard looks over the default. But I dont actually swipe with it.

swype is Ok but have a big issues : you have a blind spot each time you swipe mean you cant see where is the next letter to and as said other suck for password ,web address etc

After using my iPod Touch for awhile in my pre-smartphone days, I thought I would never get a phone with a virtual keyboard (I still can't stand using the Apple or Android stock keyboards). This (among other things) led me to get a Pre as my first smartphone. I then upgraded to the Evo, and after a few weeks using Swype/Shapewriter, I don't think I could ever go back to a physical keyboard on a phone. I don't understand how David Pogue cannot see the advantage of an onscreen keyboard where you barely need any accuracy at all, and is almost as easy to use with one hand as with two. Swype and its ilk take what was the biggest drawback to the onscreen keyboard (lack of precision in typing) and turn it into its biggest advantage. After using Swype, hunting and pecking on the Pre just feels painful (and yes, I am a touch typist ;). I do wonder how much time he spent with it, because it really does take a rewiring of your thought processes before you can use it effectively.

As for the Swype/Shapewriter debate, I have used both pretty heavily and there are definitely advantages to both. Shapewriter is a bit easier to use at first since you don't have to deal with things like capitalization, punctuation, and double letters. I used Shapewriter for about a week before trying Swype, and my initial impression was that Swype was not as good as Shapewriter. However, I've since become a Swype convert. The learning curve is definitely higher - you really need to watch the videos on the website in order to use it effectively, and using punctuation requires hardwiring new swiping motions into your muscle memory. Also, getting the Caps Lock gesture to work can be somewhat finicky. However, to me Swype overall just seems more polished. It's so much easier to enter non-standard things like email addresses, and especially passwords which have unusual combinations of capital and lower case letters (when I was using Shapewriter I would have to switch to the stock keyboard to enter passwords because Shapewriter could never get the capitalizations right). Swype is versatile enough that I can use it as a stock keyboard if I need to, which is not true for Shapewriter. Additionally, although I prefer the way Shapewriter displays word options right above the keyboard, I do like that Swype doesn't take up as much of the screen.

I'm interested to hear from people who prefer Shapewriter - what do like about it more than Swype? Someone above said Shapewriter is smarter than Swype, but I haven't noticed much of a difference between the two.

I completely agree with you about the placement of the alternative words with Swype. That's one of my biggest complaints with Swype.

I also agree with you about being too lazy to watch the videos to learn how to use Swype. Shapewriter just seems more intuitive to me.

I continue to switch to Swype every now and then but I still end up getting frustrated even after watching the videos and end up going back to Shapewriter.

I had Swype on my (non-rooted) N1 before the FroYo upgrade. I learned that Helix Launcher 2 is not compatible with FroYo, which meant that I had to reset my phone to factory settings, losing all data and installed apps. I am very happy with FroYo, by the way ... my experience as a user is definitely improved.

I haven't gotten around to re-installing Swype, and I may not ... I think typing is a notably faster than Swyping.

I just started using Swype since I hard reset my phone and can no longer get Shapewriter back, damn it the hell, but when I was using Shapewriter it was pretty sweet. But since having to use Swype it is pretty cool especially for texting while driving.

The only trouble I've had with swype is that I've had to reinstall every time I update my rom. Other than that, I've never toured do fast on any of my phones. I've it! Swype Forever!

"I've never toured do fast on any of my phones. I've it! Swype Forever!"

I'm guessing that should read "I've never typed so fast on any of my phones. Love it! Swype Forever!"

And you've successfully highlighted one of the current failing's of the Swype keyboard. Words that are close together QWERTY-wise are sometimes confusing to the engine, which inputs the wrong word. The problem is if you're not paying attention, your sentences come out like gibberish.

Please don't take this as a slam against you, it's more of a honest criticism of the Swype IME. I use it myself and have found this to be a serious hinderance to productivity. That, and I miss a voice input button.

I like swype on the portait view but I prefer the standard or multitouch keyboard in landscape. The movements are just to long in landscape and it's easier using both thumbs to type while holding the phone with both hands as I do in landscape (more stable than holding it with one hand while I swype with the other). There is also plenty of space on my Moto. Droid in landscape view. I prefer virtual keyboards over hardware keyboards so my keyboard doesn't get much use. I would love a way to specify one's default keyboard for each view rather than just globally.

Agreed on the keyboard choice by orientation, or even application, setting. One thing I don't understand (maybe I just haven't found it yet) is that there is no easy way to switch from the Swype IME, like there is on the other virtual keyboards.

I love Swype, but the biggest problem is no voice input key, as someone said above. This would make it complete.

compared to the stock Droid keyboard, the swype is a nicer keyboard because of it's larger keys and overall better layout. Other than that, I don't get what the fuss is. What is this swiping that people are doing? You just press each key and it types? Am I missing something?

Yeah, you missed the entire concept of the keyboard itself. Take a look at the website and youtube videos on the Swype keyboard.

I love Swype and I would like to try Shapewriter but it's no longer available for download (unless someone knows a way around it?).

Both are beta and Swype does have some rough edges, but I am surprised by how useful it is once a few moves are learned. I suspect we are at the beginning of a new way to enter text but it's going to take some time and effort to learn a new way.

I too would like to see a button for voice input as well as a hotkey combination to switch between regular input mode and Swype.

I hope that both Swype and Shapewriter are developing a different keyboard layout. Something like a concentric ring of letters (or ?) might make it easier to use; the linear array of QWERTY isn't optimal, especially in landscape mode.

I kinda like Swype...but I also love Vlingo...
So if only Swype would put a microphone button on there that could default to Vlingo I would be a happy guy.

Swype is great for shorter words, but as they get longer I do start to struggle with it. Halfway through a long word I really have to start thinking about where the remaining letters are. For longer words, predictive keyboards like Touchpal are better, since you get halfway through and can stop.

I signed my wife and I up during the recent open beta for Swype, and we both agree it would be hard to go back.

I was so slows with the hunt and peck method I wouldn't respond to text messages unless there was no alternative, and I would never respond to email on my phone. With Swype I can type so fast I actually enjoy text messaging sessions with my daughter.

When my EVO had to be reset this weekend Swype was one app that wouldn't come back up. I sent desperate pleas to the folks at Swype inc. One of there support techs called me and walked me through getting my beta license back.

A great product and great support. How can you go wrong with that?

I've tried both Swype and ShapeWriter and Swype is just a little bit better. Keyboard layout is better, and special circumstances imarx laid out above (capitalizations, no caps lock, passwords, etc) are true. Swype is saving my bacon now since I dislocated my right elbow and am now in a cast. I'm learning to Swype with my left thumb only. I've found it works better for me since I turned OFF prediction. It still "asks" if its not sure what I swyped, but the autocomplete didn't work well for me. I don't use many of the common texting shorthands.

As the comments here show, it's a love it or hate it thing. I wanted to love it after hearing so much greatness about it, but after a week or so I just couldn't get comfortable with it. Of course, I'm on a Touch Pro 2 in the WM world still (September 1 upgrade can't come soon enough). Maybe with a more responsive screen I'd like it better. I'll give it a shot again sometime.

Regardless though, it's a great innovation, and I'm glad to see people trying new things. And the beauty of the Android world (unlike that, uh, other fruity world) is that you've got choice!

I gave Swype a shot for a week or two and really wanted to like it, but could never really get as quick in landscape as thumb typing. And voice recognition is so good on the EVO that I use it far more than I expected to.

to me shapewriter is just a little bit slower than swype to me on my HTC hero, I think both are good keyboard solutions myself, it's just personal preference.

Now David Pogue, he'd LOVE swype if it was on a device with an apple on it's back, it isn't on, so therefore he must hate it as a huge Apple fanboy...

to me shapewriter is just a little bit slower than swype to me on my HTC hero, I think both are good keyboard solutions myself, it's just personal preference.

Now David Pogue, he'd LOVE swype if it was on a device with an apple on it's back, it isn't on, so therefore he must hate it as a huge Apple fanboy...

I downloaded 'Better Keyboard' just try the Swype ( as shown in the article Android 101), but there is no option to use it!! What did i do wrong.

using HTC Legend, Android 2.1