6 Comments

Summary:

Swype, a popular third-party Android keyboard, improves to version 3.0 with tap word prediction and a new resizing function specific to Honeycomb tablets. Since larger slates aren’t suited for one-handed use, the improved features show that Swype is willing to pivot, even after 50 million installs.

swype-3-beta-tablet

Swype, a popular third-party keyboard for Android devices, has improved to version 3.0 with word prediction and a resizing function specific to Honeycomb tablets. The new software is available for all in a public beta by way of a registration page on Swype’s website; your Android smartphone or tablet will need to be enabled to install apps from outside of the Android Market. Swype, which is pre-loaded on some Android smartphones and uses a word trace function for fast input, now claims to have 50 million installations of its software over the past 18 months.

The word prediction functionality is useful for those who switch between “swyping” and tapping, which is the type of user I am. Sometimes I’ll trace my words out, which is a differentiating feature of Swype. But I also tend to tap out words like many others, which is why I gravitate towards the SwiftKey keyboard: I find that it can predict words with as few as one or two taps thanks to some cloud intelligence. The new Swype 3.0 may offer the best of both worlds, although I haven’t used it long enough to test the effectiveness of the word prediction. Here’s a video demonstration direct from Swype to illustrate the new features:

The new keyboard supports smartphones of various resolutions, including the 960 x 540, or qHD, resolution, which is now becoming popular on the latest handsets such as the HTC Sensation 4G, Motorola Atrix 4G and the upcoming HTC Evo 3D. Swype 3.0 also works on 1280 x 800 resolution tablets, where the keyboard can be resized to a smaller, thumb-friendly size, or repositioned at the bottom of the screen. I’m not sold that Swype is as effective on tablets as it is on phones, however.

The core competency of the Swype keyboard is the unique word tracing functionality, which is better suited for a smaller device such as a smartphone. With one hand, you can hold the handset and quickly trace words as an input method. The same use case doesn’t quite apply to larger screened devices. I have the new Swype 3.0 beta installed on the 10.1-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, for example, and unless you have hands the size of a giant, it takes two hands to use the tablet. I suspect that’s part of the decision Swype has taken by adding tap word prediction to the new version — a small but smart change for a popular keyboard.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. One thing that is not clear is that if Swype is really hardware or carrier dependent? When you say its available to “all”, does it mean that Swype has gone beyond being available to only on specific phones?
    Is installing or upgrading to v3.0 also relevant for those who had Swype pre-installed (for example Droid X)? Looks like there is a whole licencing angle with this beta (they email you the licence code once you register, and you have to login during the installation process). I for one – having version 1.64 could not upgrade to version 3 (i.e. if I was supposed to do this manual update, and my installed version wouldn’t have automatically kept itself updated). I already have had word prediction as well since day one, so not sure what exactly is this update – unless ability to resize is the only key new element.

    1. Rovi – it looks like their beta program is open again. If you can register for it you can probably get 3.0b.

      The Tap Correction is a big improvement, solves one of my key frustration with Swype. It lets you correct bad spellings without multiple taps to solve Swype’s automatic spacing efforts.

  2. Kevin–thanks for the update. Would you be able to contact Swype & ask them why the beta is incompatible w/ the pre-installed version? I (like many) had Swype on my Galaxy S when I bought the phone and am interested in the beta. However I’m bummed that I’m excluded from the beta because I’d love to see how the improvements flow. Here’s one of the messages from the swype link.

    Sincerely, bummed

    •If your phone came pre-installed with Swype
    DO NOT download this beta (it won’t work)

  3. Hi Kevin;

    I tried the new Swype out on my also-new EEE Transformer (*why* did I buy a tablet? x_x) and it has a great small corner mode, so you can use it with one hand like on a phone and it won’t overlap anything else.

    It was slow and laggy for me — but I could see the appeal.

  4. SlideIT has had tablet support, resizing and predictive tapping for months, not to mention a “horizontal suggestion bar”, which is so trivial it is not even listed as a “feature”. They can even combine tapping and swyping. I always feel that Swype is one step behind them and is just looking at what SlideIT does and coping it with a fancier look. Sorry, but the original is usually (and this is no exception) better.

  5. SlideIT has had tablet support, resizing and predictive tapping for months, not to mention a “horizontal suggestion bar”, which is so trivial it is not even listed as a “feature”. They can even combine tapping and swyping. I always feel that Swype is one step behind them and is just looking at what SlideIT does and coping it with a fancier look. Sorry, but the original is usually (and this is no exception) better.
    http://www.mobiletextinput.com/Download/

Comments have been disabled for this post