The understated greatness of Swype's Android keyboard upgrade

Whether you're using your thumbs or your voice, Swype does text entry better than Google


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If I had to name the best selling point, the greatest unique virtue of Android over, say, iOS, it would be choice. Leaving aside arguments about “open,” open-source, and carrier quirks, Android phones do allow you to replace many parts of the system with your own personal favorites. And the greatest replacement you can make, to my mind, is ditching the standard Android keyboard and swapping in Swype.

On typing alone, Swype provides an alternative to hunt-and-peck finger typing and two-thumb acrobatics. You slide your finger across the letters that form the word you’re looking for. For “sushi,” you tap down on “s,” keep your finger on the glass, glide over to “u,” back to “s,” then run over to “h” and up to “i.” Around 90 percent of the time, “sushi” shows up in the field you were writing in. In 8 percent of the other cases, “sushi” will, at least, show up in a short list of words Swype guessed you were going for, and you can tap it to fill it in.

Swype in action

There remains the occasional “No, that wasn’t it at all” moment, but keep in mind that this happens quite often with standard letter-by-letter keyboards, too. You get better with Swype as you become more comfortable with it, and start to trust it more--much as you you do with Apple’s keyboard, which incorporates some guesswork in its letter and word picks. Over time, your thumb or finger gets some memory of how to gesture out common words, and you save a few seconds on every other word, and you feel less awkward telling your phone what you mean. If you have an Android tablet, Swype is just as much of a text entry transformation, if not more so.

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