HTC Trace Takes on Swype With Better Android Keyboard

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The newest version of HTC Sense, a simplified user interface for Android (s goog) smartphones and tablets, appears to have a new keyboard function that allows text input by swiping a finger across keys. According to the AndroidPolice blog, a hands-on session with the upcoming HTC Sensation 4G revealed the feature, called HTC Trace. Android device owners familiar with a different application called Swype are sure to see the similarities.

Both Swype and HTC Trace work using the same concept. Instead of tapping away at keys, text input is faster when users don’t have to lift a finger, as it were. Using the software, words are quickly traced which reduces the wasted time of lifting a finger for each and every letter. Automatic insertion of a space between words also speeds up the process as you can see in this brief video demo.

Based on my own use of Swype and the description of HTC Trace, the two software solutions seem nearly identical. If HTC does officially release Trace with HTC Sense 3.0, I’m sure users will be happy to have the option, but the Swype folks may have something to say about it unless HTC has licensed the software for Sense.

Regardless of the legalities, HTC continues to show building smart hardware for handsets isn’t enough. The company is increasing profits to new records by designing solid smartphones, and by supplementing the devices with effective, in-house software, HTC is making the phones easier to use: a big selling point.

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I hope this makes it into Sense 3.0 and the Sensation. I’m a huge Swype fan. I’m currently using a G2X. I’d be willing to give up the GPU performance for the Sensation’s smoother UI, aluminum construction, and high-res screen. Trace makes it far more tempting.

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