Swype is a keyboard app that has a ton of features and input methods that make it stand out from the crowded keyboard scene.
Developer: Nuance Communications
Cost: $0.99 (Free trial available)
Swype has been around a while now, and has established itself as one of the more popular keyboard apps for Android. It offers a lot of value for it’s asking price and has only improved as the years have gone by. Cloud features for storing your personal dictionary, voice dictation and custom themes are just a few of the features it packs, but how is the typing experience?
The main way Swype expects you to type is by “swiping,” where you drag your finger from letter to letter in a fluid motion to spell out a word. This feature is offered on a lot of keyboards nowadays, and Swype’s version is implemented well. It generally did a good job of telling what word I was going for, and it offers a few suggestions as well in case the word in picked up wasn’t correct. Me being a “hunt and peck” typist on my phone, this feature took a lot of getting used to, as after I swiped out a word, I didn’t always get the result I wanted because I tend to move my finger too quickly over some letters and miss my target. Swiping is certainly fast and fluid when you get the hang of it, however, and I find myself using it a lot more than I thought I would. The standard typing method of Swype was a bit off for me, as I found myself somehow missing letters and mistyping when not using the swipe typing. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t use Swype as my daily driver keyboard even though it is an excellent keyboard overall. It just doesn’t gel with my preferred typing method as much as the Google keyboard.
Swype also has built-in voice dictation from Nuance Communications other product, Dragon. The voice dictation typing works very well, and doesn’t require any voice training to accurately pick up my words as I speak them. As with any speech-to-text system, there were a few missed words or incorrect choices but on the whole it did a great job, and I used it more than I thought I would, especially when my hands were unavailable. Swype’s final unique input method is handwriting recognition, which I could take or leave. It does a fine job most of the time of picking up the letters I wrote with my finger, but the box is very small so writing out a whole word left to right is difficult if you have larger handwriting like I do. I think this feature is a bit unnecessary, and probably underused, but it is a nice option for those that like it and just another feature to add to the long list of things packed into this keyboard.
The biggest selling point of Swype, at least for me, is the custom theme system they have. There are a ton of options to customize your keyboard to fit your phone’s theme, or just to look awesome. My favorites are the Star Trek and color options, but there are a bunch more to get that will truly make your keyboard unique. The themes change the color, background and buttons of the keyboard in different ways, and none of them are really lazy, with some excellent details that remind me of rooted custom keyboards.
Swype has a laundry list of other neat features as well, including cloud backup for your personal dictionary so you can take it from device to device easily, a gesture-based “cut, copy, paste” that functions similarly to a PC keyboard shortcut, and a bunch of accessibility features for those who need them like talk-back and bilingual support.
Swype is really overflowing with content for a cheap keyboard app. It packs in multiple input methods that all work well, along with a bevy of customization and usability features that really add some value. The Swype keyboard is certainly not perfect, and there are of course other options out there that offer similar features, but Swype is definitely a excellent keyboard that anyone could find something to love in. A solid recommendation for anyone looking to replace Fan stock keyboard, or spice up their phone theme with even more customization.