Nuance added support for Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, in the latest beta of its Swype software keyboard on Thursday. The new version has a limited audience base since so few handsets and tablets currently run Google’s most recent operating system, but Swype is getting ready for devices as they gain the update to Android 4.0. And Swype now includes Dragon Go! for quick voice searches.
Although I’m not a regular Swype user, I installed the beta on my Galaxy Nexus smartphone and used it for several emails this afternoon. Because you can swipe keys with a single finger with Swype, you can often type faster than on a standard software keyboard: you trace your words and only lift a finger for the space between words. There’s also a word suggestion feature. Even though I haven’t used Swype for a few months, I was quickly inputting text with this new version.
Nuance also includes integrated support for Dragon Go! in this beta version of Swype. Dragon Go! is a free app in the Android Market that offers Siri-like voice search functionality. You can tap-and-hold the Dragon Go! button and ask, for example, “What is the square root of pi?” and Dragon Go! will return the answer from Wolfram Alpha. Searches for movie times and locations return results from Fandango, and there are several other search functions included. Just tapping the button activates the voice input function, which I found to be very accurate.
Nuance says that Dragon Go! needs to be installed for the search functionality to work, but the Android Market won’t allow me to install the app to my Galaxy Nexus. It’s likely a problem unique to me as I’m running a custom ROM and my handset is from the U.K.; Dragon Go! is available on U.S. Android handsets.