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.
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One of the most essential pieces of software on my Droid is Swype, the astonishing–yes, astonishing–utility that lets you enter text by whipping your finger around the on-screen keyboard as fast as you can go. As long as your finger glides past the characters in the word you intend you’re good, and you don’t need to tap, tap, tap. But I’m one of the lucky few that the Swype folks have permitted to install the software: The company’s business model involves licensing the app to phone makers as a preinstalled feature.
Now TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington is reporting that Swype will be available as a download for Android phones, starting today. Wonderful news–I don’t claim that every owner of an Android phone will find it as indispensable as I do, but I do think every Android user should try it…
Here at CES, I just visited with the folks behind Swype, the touchscreen input technology that knocked my socks off in canned demos I’ve seen, and which recently shipped on its first phone, Samsung’s Omnia II. I finally got some hands-on experience, and…I’m not only impressed, I’m more impressed than before, because the learning curve is small and the accuracy is remarkable.
Watching it in action remains the best way to understand it:
The only thing I don’t like about Swype: The company’s strategy is to get it built into as many phones (and tablets, and other devices that need a touch keboard) as possible. So they’re not selling it as a stand-alone app. If by some miracle this technology were to become available on the iPhone, it would be a great day indeed.
One of the most impressive demos I’ve seen in the last couple of years–although I’ve seen it only in the form of online video, not in person–is Swype, a form of QWERTY input for phones that was unveiled at last year’s TechCrunch50 conference. It lets you enter text by zigzagging your finger around an onscreen keyboard, and while it’s always dangerous to judge a product based on a demonstration by the guys who created it, it looks neat.
It’s well over a year later, and Swype is finally showing up on a handset: Samsung’s Omnia II from Verizon, which ships on December 2nd. If Swype is quite as revolutionary as it looks, I’m not sure why it’s taken this long for it to become available–and the Omnia, which runs Windows Mobile 6.5, doesn’t look like a very thrilling phone otherwise. But I plan to sneak into a Verizon store next week and see if I can get some hands-on time…