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 (www.swype.com), 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.