Swype: turbo typing for lazy fingers
This week I’d like to introduce you to something I’m annoyed to ever have to go without. Once used, going back to regular typing on a touch device will feel choppy and slow. You’ll want to whine about it. Clearly that’s what I’m doing.
Better yet, maybe you’re using it already and would like the opportunity to mock your peers for having to - oh, the shame - touch all the letters when they type.
I’m talking about Swype, an alternative keyboard with a few extra bells and whistles. Many Android devices come with it pre-installed, and all you need to do is flip one keyboard setting and - bam - you’re ready to get sloppy.
Other Android devices require that you download Swype yourself. Sorry iPhone users, there’s no official Swype for you yet. But do not despair! It has been unofficially ported for iOS devices, so you can enjoy most of its functionality and get some super-speedy swiping done. Hold out hope that the new purchase of the company may bode well for getting a more official full-fledged version.
To type, all you have to do is trace your finger over the letters in a word, and its predictive software helps it determine which word you meant. Instead of tapping each letter, you save time by not lifting your finger until you’re done. No hesitation! Short words can be problematic if you have to pass over many other letters en route, but it’s a glorious feeling to swipe out a deliciously long word in a matter of seconds and have it pop up perfectly. Swype is surprisingly accurate, and may or may not have been engineered by unicorns. It takes a little getting used to, but not much. The only real learning curve is getting comfortable enough to be super sloppy while still getting the words you want. That’s right, you’re encouraged to learn less finesse.
See how sloppy that is? How it goes over the letters, and doesn’t even stop on the “k”? And yet Swype gets it right, allowing you to charge ahead into word after word after word without pause. Spaces between words are automatic. The line shows you where you’ve been, and you can even swipe over the apostrophe to throw one in the middle of a word like “you’re”. Scribbling on one letter signals a double letter in the word, though it often figures out doubles (and apostrophes) by itself. You can easily break 40 words per minute on a mobile device with Swype.
I’m learning more about it in their tips section for so-called Advanced Users. (Not linking that, because new users would be tempted to click and then confuse themselves and get put off.) But most of what I needed to know, I figured out just by using it. Heck, I had no idea what Swype even was when I enabled it on my phone. I just started messing around, it told me to swipe out my words, and I was off to the races. Magical unicorn races. I guess I’m only an Intermediate User so far, or Intermediate-Advanced, from what I’ve learned naturally. I’m happy with that; it gets the job done without making me think about how to do it. It’s very intuitive. I haven’t felt that I was lacking any functions. However, it looks like the bounce gesture may help with my less-than-accurate short words! My scribbling may reach new heights yet.
I never turn my phone sideways to type anymore. I don’t need the space, it doesn’t matter if I fat-finger the letters, and I can Swype extra fast with the smaller portrait-oriented keyboard. Everything is within easy reach. It’s so convenient that I shake my fist at the technology gods when using a device that doesn’t have it.
Can you see now why tapping each letter feels like a huge pain to someone used to zipping across the general vicinity of the letters for the same result?
For speeding up the typing process, reimagining the touch typing experience, and bringing us back to some good old-fashioned fun scribbling time, I hereby label Swype an awesome innovation. One I’d really really rather not have to go without. Ever.