April 24, 2013
Swype Customizable Keyboard Makes It To Android
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
There are a few apps out there that provide a more user-friendly keyboard, and a new one just came out of beta testing. It's called Swype, it is now available in the Google Play store for Android devices including smartphones and tablets. The app is available for a 30-day free trial followed by an introductory price of $0.99 — a price that will go up after a limited time.
In working on Swype, the developers at Nuance identified four typing styles and then created distinct user profiles for each one. Each of these then allows for customization, and users can find their way around the keyboard in the four styles. A Swype'r is a user who glides fingers from one letter to the next to input text. A Typer is someone who uses both hands to enter text as fast as possible and often doesn't pay attention to the screen until the end of a sentence. A Tapper is a methodical and precise version of Typer who reviews text every few words. A Dictator uses voice-to-text to speak into the phone — a particular strongpoint of Nuance who also developed the famous Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software. Users can also handwrite messages, which the app will translate into typed text.
"Swype is a living, learning keyboard that continuously updates each user's personal language model with words and phrases they use the most — and with opt-in connected services you can also get the words and phrases trending around the world through the power of crowdsourcing," said Nuance in a statement.
The app picks up on user styles and has some tools to help advance usage. For the Swype'r, Nuance added XT9, a text predicting and correcting software. Nuance's additions also include suggestions of phrases — which is continuously updated as trending and terminology evolves. XT9 is also used for the Typer, which corrects "sloppy type" algorithms. The profile also includes a function called Smart Touch, which adjusts to typing styles based on where fingers hit the screen, while Smart Editor suggests editorial revisions. Of course reading a text before hitting "send" or "post" is always recommended, no matter which keyboard you are using.
Swype is only now becoming available for the general public and was previously only available through phone manufacturers. Nuance reports that the app is already being used by 500 million users worldwide. While most of those users got Swipe when they bought their phone, Swype has attracted a handful of intrepid users thanks to its prolonged beta testing phase. For these users, the beta version will remain available so that Nuance can test new features.
The Google Play version of the app has a few new features that have not previously been available through OEM deals. Expanded Living Language Dialect Support is a dictionary and phrasebook that gets constant updates and has support for over 20 dialects. Smart Touch is a feature that adjusts to each user's personal input patterns, reducing the "fat finger" syndrome that creates a lot of typos.
Smart Reselect is a user-initiated autocorrect. It makes word suggestions when a user reselects a word for editing. Dragon Mobile Assistant works with users of Nuance's Dragon Mobile Assistant to coordinate with Swype. Gliding a finger from the Swype key to the Dragon flame will open the personal mobile assistant. Swype also comes with 13 keyboard themes, many including the Holo and Arctic designs are new.