Swype Keyboard for Android Finally Emerges from Beta

The Swype keyboard for Android, long in beta and limited to just a few handsets, is now available for all Android smartphones and tablets. Swype takes some getting used to, according to CIO.com blogger James A. Martin, but it can be a valuable typing tool.

Three years. That’s how long Swype, the virtual-keyboard app for Android, spent in beta. On April 24, the app's first non-beta release hit the Google Play store, where it’s currently selling for 99 cents.

If you want an alternative way to enter text on your Android, you should snap up Swype now at the discounted price. Or download the free version and try Swype for 30 days without paying a dime. Typing with Swype takes some getting used to, though.

The Swype app, once installed, replaces your Android keyboard with its own keypad. (You can easily switch back to your original keyboard later.) To "type," you slide your finger across the Swype virtual keyboard to select the characters you want, without taking your finger off the screen.

Swype keyboard

Swype figures out the word you want based on your finger's trajectory. The app's accuracy is likely to be low at first, as you get used to Swype, but it will improve over time. Swype learns your swiping style the more you use it. And Swype’s "Living Language" option crowdsources and updates your personal Swype dictionary with location-specific trending words from other Swype users. According to Nuance, the Swype maker, the app currently has about 500 million users globally.

If "Swyping" proves too frustrating, the Swype keyboard also offers traditional touch typing, as well as drawing and dictation. For me, drawing characters was even more difficult than Swyping, but voice dictation worked well. (Nuance also makes the excellent Dragon speech-recognition software and apps.)

Swype lets you backup your dictionary online and sync it to other Android devices. The Swype keyboard is optimized for tablet screens as well as smartphones, and you only have to buy the app once.

I doubt I’ll become a full-time "Swyper," because I already type rather rapidly, and mixing capital and lower case when Swyping is cumbersome for me. But with a little dedicated time up front, and depending on your typing style, you could prefer Swype. 

(Screen shot by Nuance Communications, Inc.)

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