Beta Review: Swype

Swype - Actually pretty awesome.

The onslaught of touch-only Androids hitting the market has created a bit of dilemma for me. You see unfortunately, I was blessed with fingers that may as well be physically allergic to on-screen keyboards. I’d literally take a T9 keypad over those ridiculous on-screen “mock ups” of the real thing… So for now, I’ve been patiently waiting with my T-Mobile G1 for an awesome new Android packing a full QWERTY. It’s felt like an eternity already…

While time will tell if I’ll ever get my new phone-of-my-dreams, a new app has been released in beta that I’ve been lucky enough to have a few weeks to try out, and I must say, that while it’s not perfect, almost would make me consider a touch-only device.

Swype is an app that replaces the stock on-screen keyboard with a new gesture-based way of typing. It’s a novel concept that, surprisingly, works pretty well! Let’s say for example you wanted to type “Hi android.” All you have to do is touch down on H, then slide your finger to the i and release. After you lift your finger, touch back down on the a to begin typing android, and continue the same way you did hi, but sliding from the a to the n, the d, r, o, i and finally d. The spaces are automatically added every time you start another word. Most common words are automatically guessed and used. If it’s not 100% sure of what you wanted to type, an on-screen predictive text type box comes up with some suggestions of what you might have meant. If your word isn’t in there, you hit an x and just touch type your word the old fashion way, adding it to your message and to the predictive database. It’s really simple and intuitive. There are a lot of little hints and tricks on the official website for Swype (, but I’m just going to recommend you start trying it out for yourself to see all that it can do.

Swype is still in beta at the moment, but it’s already proving itself to be a truly unique and worthwhile alternative to typing. It has regular touch screen typing beat by a long shot, and while I’m still not ready to let go of my beloved physical QWERTY’s, I’d at least consider a touch-only phone if I could use Swype on it.

  • Guags

    I tried it a couple weeks ago…I would say its for people who (unlike me) know where all the letters are on the keyboard. I found my finger blocking my view of the keyboard and having to slide it out if the way which totally changed what it "thought" I was typing.

    I just typed this on my HTC IME keyboard…not great, but better for me than Swype.

  • Kathi17

    I downloaded the Swype beta this morning, and it really is nice. I was as amazed by it's accuracy as I was by how accurate voice texting is.

    I'm still waiting for a G2 so I can keep my G1 keyboard, but this and voice are making my life much easier!

  • I manage to get most of what I want from my G1 using PDANet to provide me with a full-size keyboard via my laptop (I'm using that right now, in fact), although that has some curious limitations, mostly having to do with Windows firewall. I would like to see some simple way to connect a plain old USB keyboard to my G1, which would get me about 90% of what I want. E.g., I could easily update my websites from the G1, which is possible with the itty-bitty keyboard, but very cumbersome to a touch-typist.

  • Ted

    Any chance of someone posting a comparison between this and ShapeWriter?

    • I wrote the review and I just tried out ShapeWriter for a bit last night. I might have to write a full length comparison later once I've gotten a little more time with it (and really I think I'd want to wait for the full version of Swype), but even now, I gotta say Swype seems more accurate. While there were a few times that Swype would have to bring up the Predictive box on me (and usually my word was right in there for me to tap), there were at least a few times that ShapeWriter just picked decided on and entered the wrong word completely which I had to erase. Also there's just something about Swype's keyboard layout that looks more polished. So for now, I'd stick with Swype.

  • Yeah, I love my keyboard, but with swype it won't be so bad if a future phone of mine didn't have one.

  • webby

    I tried Swype beta for some weeks. I was excited about it for quite awhile, but eventually tired of it, as it just doesn't want to let you type words it doesn't know, or text shorthand. It got very frustrating, so i reverted back to the stock Droid virtual keyboard, and found that I am faster with it than with Swype.

    It's a nice idea, but the novelty wore off and it's not practical.

    • EDR

      This is an updated version of the swype software. Any words manually typed out are automatically added to the dictionary. You could add your shorthand this way. They also seem to have fixed some of the bugs I was experiencing as well. Overall it seems really nice so far and worth upgrading.

  • CJ100570

    Swype is a gimmick that won't last long. As has been pointed out it complicates an uncomplicated act, typing.

  • Matt

    I was under the impression that Swype was not going to be entering the Android market, and would only be included on phones. Isn't that the case? Gina Trapani even reviewed it on This Week in Google, and the people at Swype pretty much chastised her for daring to install their app on her phone. They were refusing to put the app in the market when it was done.

    I know that we can all figure out how to get it on our phones at any point, but I still think it's worth mentioning.

  • FinallyOnAndroid

    I downloaded swype a couple hours ago and have been texting and posting like crazy since. I'm coming from an ATT 8525 with physical keyboard to having just bought a Nexus One this week! SIANORA WinMO! I've been excited about the idea of swype for a couple months, waiting for it to come out and giving me the option of a physical keyboardless device. I was hesitant to buy the N1 (without a keyboard) and didn't even realize I would get swype so soon, even if still beta. I haven't had too many issues, and the learning curve is very quick. Just take the 5 minutes and go through the little tutorial for some good hints (like how to capitalize automatically).

    Anyway, I love it so far, and plan to use it as my primary keyboard. It is better than ticking away one by one on screen, which besides, you can do on swype as well.

  • andyd

    Tried the hvga version on my hero and basically i liked it but found that it was buggy when entering passwords on websites eg. internet banking. If they can fix that and come up with a clear strategy on their business model then it could be a winner.

    • D T

      if you are entering a password, unless your password is a dictionary word, you would want to add it letter by letter, number by number. just like on any other keyboard — swype let's you do that.

      • Yes, if you can also type key by key and not swype from one key to the other so it is working for complex (as they should) password.

  • Dima

    This is a good idea, but I really only see it as a compliment to a hardware keyboard (just like any software keyboard, really). Plus they changed the location of a few keys I use fairly often, which is REALLY annoying. Other than that, it works pretty well on Droid.

  • Callum

    I think its brilliant – for people who are new to touch only phones. But for me I am very used to the keyboard by now and am much faster typing as I can use two fingers.

  • da_n

    Using swype beta right now and absolutely love it. It's so much faster than manually typing and extremely accurate. I am a convert. Can't imagine they will keep it free past the beta however but I would pay a few bucks.

  • Jonathan

    After downloading the initial offering and now trying the Beta release…I have so say this is awesome. It took me a few videos I watched on their website/youtube and a few days worth of messed up messages but this is amazing. It's quick and I am interested to see which takes longer…stock keyboard/swype…I bet swype is quicker

  • Preston

    I just decided to give swype another chance after giving up on it the first time I used it. I must say that now that i gave it a real shot I am really enjoying it. Just in case you don't know you don't have to space after inputting a word and also if your word pops up as the first suggestion you don't have to tap on it, just keep going as the green word is selected for you. Im also noticing it as a huge help for me as I am terrible at spelling. I actually just wrote this comment using swype and I enjoyed it and it dident take me very long at all. Ive left my email address in case anyone has any input on my post.

  • ust in case you don't know you don't have to space after inputting a word and also if your word pops up as the first suggestion you don't have to tap on it, just keep going as the green word is selected for you.

  • Im also noticing it as a huge help for me as I am terrible at spelling. I actually just wrote this comment using swype and I enjoyed it and it dident take me very long at all. Ive left my email address in case anyone has any input on my post.

  • BachinPhx

    I tried it, it was okay but seemed more like a novelty. I am using the HTC IME keyboard on my Moto Droid and it is perfect. I also have the Swift Key which will attempt to figure out your next word in a sentence. It is actually not bad but you are always looking up to see what the word is. IME is still the best keyboard out there. If you want to try something cool, try and find "Wi-Fi keyboard". It syncs with your keyboard on your computer, Very nice.

  • Wow! Thank you for writing this article. It got exactly what i was looking for, and it included all the correct information i was curious of knowing. Once again, thank you this helped me very much. Keep up the excellent work.

  • thank you for sharing. nice post. i like it :p

  • I first heard about Swype while deciding on whether or not to get the Droid X or the Incredible. I went with the DInc only to find out that the X came with Swype stock, and when I went to download the Beta version I found it had ended. I found SlideIT on the app Market for free and it is remarkably similar to Swype. Unfortunately I am rather cheap and after my trial ended, I uninstalled it & went looking for Swype yet again.

    I eventually found it and while both SlideIT & Swype both have cool functions, I think overall I prefer Swype. They are both so similar that you can’t really go wrong with either. Both use the sliding gesture-like feature and have predictive text, can *learn* words and soforth. I honestly would’ve kept SlideIT had my trial not expired.

    For those who really wish to text easier, faster and with more accuracy, I recommend either of these. They really ARE pretty amazing. If you cannot find Swype for free, check out the free trial of SlideIT and if you like it, go ahead and pay for the full version. Also, yes at times your fingers DO block your view of the screen as you text, but after a few days of steady use, you will instinctivey *know* where the keys are–most of the time–so your mistakes will become fewer & fewer with regular use.

    Those who are texting-centric like myself, will find both programs essential–especially if you do not have a physical keyboard.

  • This is a wonderful write-up! I only have one question. How do you do it so brilliantly? Everything on this web site is so good.

    Carry on the good work!

  • works well on my phone but I dont swype when texting instead tap typing coz it doesnt recognize how Filipinos do the texting.

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