Using Your Swype Keyboard

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June 22, 2011

If you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone.  But fortunately, that means you can have the Swype keyboard which makes typing on a mobile device incredibly fast!  When using this keyboard, you don’t have to hit the individual buttons.  Instead, you only need to swipe your finger over the intended letters.  Swype figures out what you’re trying to type based on history and word dictionaries.

Because you don’t have to lift your finger for each letter, typing a word is a quick gesture on your touchscreen device.  Of course, this style of typing could take some getting used to.  There’s a learning curve to Swype.  But once mastered, it can be the quickest way of inputting text on a mobile device.

In fact, the current Guinness World Record for fastest text-messaging belongs to Franklin Page an employee of Swype.  He typed the following sentence in 35.4 seconds:

The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.

Swype is not available on the iPhone.  However, while Android and even Windows Mobile begin dominating the phone and tablet world, this isn’t a big issue.  Many people have access to Swype which comes pre-installed on several devices, particularly Samsung branded ones.

There are some downsides to Swype, however.  The biggest one comes with its most useful feature:  word prediction.  While Swype usually understands the word you’re swiping into it, on the rare occasion it doesn’t, your messaging can be slowed down considerably.  At best, you’ll be asked to click on the correct word from a list of four.  At worst, it types the wrong word, requiring you double tap it, look for it on a list of other suggestions and if it’s not there, delete and retype your word.  It’s important to remember that any keyboard is error-prone.  So, the huge advantages in time-saving outweighs these few occasional setbacks.

The biggest annoyance, though, is the lack of a cursor.  On some devices, you can easily navigate your cursor with a trackball or some other method.  However, on a Swype keyboard, the process is complicated and not obvious.  Using the special Swype button on the keyboard, you have to swipe it to the right a bit.  This changes the keyboard layout to one of special controls allowing you to manipulate the cursor position as well as copy and paste (which can be more easily done by holding your finger on the text until you get a pop up dialog).  The process isn’t hugely time consuming, but considering sometimes all you want to do is move the cursor back one position, it can seem like far too much effort.

What keyboard do you use?  And how fast are you with it?

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