David Pogue Doesn't Like Swype

By  |  Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 10:05 pm

The New York Times’ David Pogue has blogged an addendum to his review of Verizon’s Droid X, in the form of a post about Swype, the ingenious alternate keyboard that comes with the X and other phones. David isn’t a Swype fan. In fact, he confesses to not quite getting why anyone would be a fan of the keyboard, which lets you trace out words without lifting your fingertip from the screen. He says it doesn’t seem like it would be any faster than using a standard smartphone onscreen QWERTY that makes you tap, tap, tap.

Even more than with most matters technological, input is a profoundly personal thing: The fastest way to enter text into a phone is whichever one you find to be fastest. Which could be physical QWERTY or onscreen QWERTY or Swype or something else. So I’m not telling David that there’s anything wrong with him for not bonding with Swype.

But a few thoughts on why I do use Swype, and thoroughly enjoy doing so:

  • I’m not sure whether I type any faster by Swyping characters rather than tapping them. I like it because it’s less tedious, not because it’s quicker: There’s something about tapping hundreds of times at a fast clip (and the precision required to type accurately) that makes my noggin hurt. Gliding around the keyboard with Swype is more pleasant, even if it’s no zippier. It’s like the difference between using a pogo stick and going ice skating.
  • David doesn’t like the word choice window, which pops up with multiple words which you may have entered. Neither do I. So I turn it off. I find that it’s usually necessary only with very short words (such as David’s example of “put,” “pot,” and”pit.” I generally tap those rather than Swyping them–and I do it instinctively rather than having to think about it.
  • David talks about using Swype vs. two-thumbed typing–and if you’re a proficient two-thumber, Swype might be less appealing. But with smartphones, I’m usually a one-fingered typist, and often type with the thumb of the hand that’s simultaneously cradling the phone. I find that Swype works really well in these scenarios.

Swype clearly isn’t for everybody, and it isn’t perfect. For instance, I don’t get why it recognizes words such as “Verizon” and “McCracken” every time I Swype them, but doesn’t understand that the first always needs to be capitalized and the latter needs two capital letters. (It renders them as “verizon” and “mccracken,” and entering the correct versions in the dictionary doesn’t help.) I suspect that it’ll get better at this stuff in future versions. But even as it stands now, it’s on my list of things that Android phones–some of them, anyhow–do better than the iPhone…



3 Comments For This Post

  1. David Pogue Says:

    You write: "David isn’t a Swype fan. In fact, he confesses to not quite getting why anyone would be a fan of the keyboard"

    Huh! I don't remember writing that. In fact, I wrote:

    "Swype is adored online. The comments boards are filled with glowing testimonials from people who’ve stuck with it for a few days and find it much faster than tap-typing."

    In other words, what I hoped to convey was that Swype takes practice, and that a lot of people truly love it… That's a very far cry from not knowing "why anyone would be a fan!" (And you know the Internet — people won't read my column. They'll just read your post and assume they've got the whole thing…)


  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    I apologize for not conveying what you meant to convey in your piece, David. Fair enough to say that you don't see in Swype what some people see in it–an input system that's fast to learn and which can be faster than typing?


  3. William Clements Says:

    Swype is definitely faster, easier, and nicer than the tapping keyboard. My typos rate dropped to nearly ZERO with Swype, from nearly 50% with the tapping keyboard.

    Good article!