My Little Corner of the Net

Awesome Android App of the Day: Swype

As a little kid I used to love to finger paint. Finger painting is a great, natural way to express yourself and I loved how the paint felt in my fingers.

One of the things that I like about the Android OS is how customizable it is. Even some of the most basic features, like the on-screen keyboard, can be changed. And in the case of keyboards, there are several options. I’ve tried a few and found some obvious improvements to the default, but none that really seemed great. That is, until my friend Kelly introduced me to Swype.

Swype isn’t just a keyboard app, it is a whole new concept on text entry. At first glance, it looks like any keyboard, but as you start to use it, you’ll realize it’s something else. Drag your finger from key to key and Swype figures out what you want to say–with surprising accuracy, too.

Sample images of a Swype keyboard

Image from

Swype is currently in beta and isn’t available in the Android Market. Instead, head over to the MySwype page and sign up for the beta program. You’ll receive an email within a couple of minutes with a link to the downloaded. Simply register your device in the installer and Swype will install, then you can to activate it via the Language and Keyboard Settings panel of your device. You’ll probably have to turn on the “unknown sources” option in the Application Settings panel as well in order to allow the non-Market install.

Swype is said to help speed up your typing, and I can see it doing that. Initially, though, it is a bit difficult to get used to–I am probably an above-average touch typist who uses a keyboard all day, but even I had trouble remembering where some letters when I broke away from the typical muscle memory of typing and started dragging my finger. With a bit of practice, though, I seem to be getting better—and I’ve only been using it for a day.

Wanting to challenge the app, I tried several words that were long and/or complex and Swype got most of them on the first try: “Czechoslovakia,” my co-worker’s first name, “Xiuli,” and my last name, “Pitoniak,” gave it no difficulty at all. It didn’t get my hometown, “Belchertown,” on the first try, and it doesn’t seem to know swear words (yes, I have the mentality of a second grader, I tried entering swear words). Fortunately it is really easy to add new words to the dictionary and, after adding “Belchertown,” it gets it right every time. After “Swyping,” Swype also provides a list of possible matches above the keyboard that you can select from if it doesn’t get your word right on its first guess. You can also use the keyboard in a more traditional manner when necessary.

Random Swyping brought up “ectoplasm,” which I found humorous given my love of the movie Ghostbusters. Swype had no problem with “Ghostbusters” either.

Unfortunately, Swype is most accurate when when you are more dilligent with your actions. When entering one or two words into a search box, it works fine. When trying to enter quotes from The IT Crowd some of the results were more humourous than the quotes themselves. Swype also doesn’t automatically capitalize proper nouns which is kind of annoying (it does capitalize the first letter of lines and sentences automatically, though). It is still in beta, though, so hopefully this will improve as the application matures.

Although it is still i Beta, Swype seems to be stable and well worth checking out. It’s currently free to use, but I suspect that will change when a stable release comes out. I could find no information published on what the cost of the final version might be. Nonetheless, with a few more tweaks to its accuracy, Swype could be well worth whatever the publisher might decided to charge. Now…if they could just simulate the feeling of finger paint on my fingers…

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