Ever since I laid hands on Swype, I never felt the need to resort to an alternative text input source on my Android. This innovative custom Android keyboard from Nuance Communication has consistently been improving with each update. If you feel that Sywpe’s much-revered one-motion swipe gesture over relevant letters, usage of Nuance’s Dragon Dictation (via voice input) or the conventional tap-to-type mode to insert required text wasn’t enough to keep from using other alternative means, you need to take a look at the company’s latest beta release of their famous keyboard. Dubbed as the next-gen ‘Living Keyboard’, the brand new Swype Beta for Android has been made much smarter, polished and feature-packed. The only caveat is that you’ll still need to make do with the rather long and tiresome downloading and sideloading process in order to get your hands on this wonder product. Past that, you’ll be introduced to perhaps one of the most comprehensive text input methods on Android yet, which we shall explore after the break.
The text input capabilities of Swype have been enhanced to an extent that it now emerges as a unique keyboard replacement app which offers a 4-way solution in this regard (details later). Swype also gets the much-needed next word predictions, thanks to Nuance’s intelligent XT9 technology. Furthermore, users have much more control over the custom dictionary included within the package, which can learn from the common terms that you use in mails or over social media. The support for international languages has been made much expansive than before, as the new beta lets you pick from as many as 55 different global languages that can be downloaded from the Swype’s online service.
Apart from the aforementioned additions, the overall layout of the keyboard has been tweaked to make the keys more spacious and better suited to rather obese fingers. The language toggle has been integrated into the spacebar key, and the Dragon Dictation segment of the app has been totally revamped to include a visualizer and the Done button to let Swype know that you’re finished with chatting.
The four-way text input methods supported by the new Swype beta comprise the following:
- Swyping: Already discussed above.
- Tapping: The traditional mode of inputting text by tapping each letter, with the only difference being the super-accurate next word predictions coming from XT9 that not only let you auto-complete the words as-you-type, but also helps you with inserting the next ‘suggested’ term by just just giving it a tap.
- Speaking: Although said mode is not an entirely new addition, it is by far the best and most convenient of the entire lot. In fact, it can be safely said that Nuance’s Dragon Dictation’s speech recognition engine is perhaps the best that is currently available for Android.
- Writing (or rather, drawing): You got it right; Swype now also lets you scribble/draw (in graffiti style) on a dedicated canvas, and then converts those drawings/sketches into texts. To enable said option, hold down on the Swype button on the keyboard, hit Preferences and check the Enable Handwriting option. This will add a new key beside the spacebar, tapping which triggers the drawing mode. Spacebars need to be manually added after inserting each word.
The Swype Connect feature of the app now lets you associate your Facebook, Twitter and/or mail account(s) with the keyboard, so that it can learn your general usage of words as well as vocabulary, and can help you with precise predictions whilst you’re Swyiping. Needless to say, like all AI models, Swype also needs some time to get better with its suggestions.
Want to see all aforementioned features in action before testing out this innovative keyboard by yourself? The demo video provided below by Nuance shows it all.
As ever, the app can be downloaded from Swype Beta’s website, and is only available to registered beta subscribers. Subscription is free, by the way.