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Swype Beta For Android Is Open, Temporarily 104

Posted by kdawson
from the grab-it-quick dept.
FyreWyr writes "In 2008 we discussed Swype, which allows a mobile (phone, e.g.) user to draw a path over a virtual keyboard to enter words, rather than requiring precise tapping to accomplish the input. Using this software, a Swype intern (Franklin Page) beat the Guinness record by about 6 WPM for the Guinness-standard phrase: The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human. (Unfortunately the video at that link is marked private.) TechCrunch reports that Swype is presently in open beta, and will be available for 'a couple of days,' supporting English, Spanish, and Italian entry. Finally, while the deadline has apparently passed, I was able to retrieve the Android beta for testing a few minutes ago. I'm posting it here for the benefit of Android-enabled Slashdot readers."
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Swype Beta For Android Is Open, Temporarily

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    First post!

  • (Unfortunately the video at that link is marked private.)

    If no one can see it, it didn't happen, although I smell bear shit...

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here's someone doing it in 34.9 seconds [youtube.com] on a Nexus One...

    • Look, I can understand the distrust of anything and everything surrounding a corporate marketing push, but we should probably actually look before we call bull(bear)shit. Let's give credit where credit is due:

      That's not the only video... in fact It was on national television:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXmmOmR7M9w [youtube.com]

      Here's the writeup of the event at Guinness World Records:
      http://community.guinnessworldrecords.com/_Clackers-in-a-TV-ad-What/blog/2271291/7691.html?b= [guinnessworldrecords.com]

  • Already on (Score:5, Informative)

    by yakumo.unr (833476) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @05:47PM (#32634970) Homepage

    It's pre installed on the Samsung Galaxy S, you just have to click and hold on a text input field to get the menu up that lets you enable it.

  • by Asmor (775910) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @05:47PM (#32634972) Homepage

    My girlfriend and I recently got new phones, and I wanted to go Android but got an HTC HD2 (running Windows Mobile) with the intention of returning it within the 14 days allowed, because the phone I wanted was coming out a week later...

    Anyways, long story short, I stuck with the HD2 in very large part because I was so enamored with Swype, and was distraught that Swype wasn't available for Android.

    It's not perfect, of course, but I enjoy it. In particular, it can be a bit fiddly with smaller words (e.g. me, of, to), but once you get a rhythm going it is, dare I say it, actually fun. It's like every text message is a little game.

    It's also very intuitive and you pick it up very quickly. If you've got an Android, definitely give this a look.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by iammani (1392285)
      Not sure how long ago you checked, but Droid does come with swype.
      • by Asmor (775910)

        Really? How recent is that? Interesting.

        I'm with T-Mobile (the Droid's only on Verizon), but I'm pretty sure when I did my research I just looked for android in general, not any specific phones.

        It wasn't that long ago, a bit under a month I guess. I probably missed it.

        C'est la vie.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by iammani (1392285)
          Oops, I take that back. Its actually Motorola Droid X, that comes with swype. I got my version numbers wrong.
        • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:12PM (#32635530) Journal

          I've been running Swype for months on my Motorola Droid. It works great, and it was not at all difficult to locate it using Google. AFAICT, it's been running on most or all Android phones for quite awhile (though mostly with questionable legality).

          That said, it's great that the beta is open -- this way, I get to legally use Swype. Hopefully, some day, they'll actually let me pay for it -- I'd love to give these guys a few bucks.

          • by delinear (991444)

            That said, it's great that the beta is open -- this way, I get to legally use Swype. Hopefully, some day, they'll actually let me pay for it -- I'd love to give these guys a few bucks.

            Same here - I've only been using it over the weekend, but I already feel it's integral to the Android experience and that I'd hate to see it go away (if the beta expires and they decide not to re-issue). The sooner I can pay for this and know that it's mine for keeps, the better.

        • The new T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide has a physical keyboard and comes with Swype. I use it on my Nexus One and love it.
      • by AndrewNeo (979708)

        Strange, 'cause it doesn't. I have one, I had to get in the beta.

    • by Jello B. (950817)
      mytouch 3g slide has swype.
  • :: crickets ::
    Either there aren't too many 'Swypers' reading /. today or they're all having trouble 'swyping' on their non-phone keyboards. Either way this wins this week's "Sleepy Sunday Afternoon Story Award".
    • The people who have been using Swype probably knew about this days ago. I certainly did.
      • by delinear (991444)
        Yes, I'm new to Swype (installed it on friday), but I got the impression from the Android forum where I read about this that Swype had been in beta on Android for a while, all that happened over the weekend was that the initial beta trial period ended so they opened the beta up again (so people who already had it could renew and people who didn't could get in on the action).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
      Also, if I want to convey

      The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.

      to someone using my phone, I can like totally call them, and it only takes about 6 seconds to say, while I'm guessing "kthxby" doesn't gain a lot of speed from being "swyped".

      Meanwhile, a pox on Yet Another Stupid Internet Word like "swype".
      • by delinear (991444)

        You're paying too much attention to the phone aspect. Not only is this application not just for phones (it might actually make tablets useful for writing up information on the move, for instance), it's great on the phone for email, making lists, taking down notes, etc. If you think this is unnecessary, you've probably not spent much time trying to enter text on small, touchscreen devices. Even on the "text" front, there are many instances where it might be preferable to send a text message than to make a ca

    • Maybe all the android owners are watching Nascar right now. I just came out of Infinion raceway and I didn't see many iPhones but a lot of people had Droids

      PS. Typed on my eris with swype

    • :: crickets :: Either there aren't too many 'Swypers' reading /. today or they're all having trouble 'swyping' on their non-phone keyboards. Either way this wins this week's "Sleepy Sunday Afternoon Story Award".

      Um...It's Father's Day in the USA? :)

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Either there aren't too many 'Swypers' reading /. today or they're all having trouble 'swyping' on their non-phone keyboards. Either way this wins this week's "Sleepy Sunday Afternoon Story Award".

      Quite a feat, considering it's Monday morning.

      You see those of us who aren't iTards have known about swipe for quite some time as well as knowing about the swype beta. As seems to happen so often on Slashdot, this is not news.

  • Krogdor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krogdor (1611241) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @06:17PM (#32635158)
    I think the whole Guinness World Record thing is a bit skewed... The phrase is extremely well made for Swype. I know this wasn't intentional, but Swype excels at typing out extremely long and complicated words—the exact bane of most text inputs, and the reason that they are included in a world record phrase. Where Swype has trouble, however, is short words that are easily misinterpreted.
    • Re:Krogdor (Score:4, Interesting)

      by beanpoppa (1305757) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:44PM (#32636642)
      I've been using Swype for a little while now on my Droid, and you are right. Short words are more ambiguous, and harder for Swype to interpret. But Swype also lets you touch-type words like any other touch-screen keyboard. I've gotten into the habit of touch-typing out short words, and 'Swyping' the longer ones. While other touch-screen keyboards try to mimic the physical keyboard world (haptic feedback, etc), Swype embraces new methods that a touch-screen can bring about.
  • shapewriter (Score:4, Interesting)

    by markdavis (642305) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @06:32PM (#32635248)

    For the moment, I am extremely impressed with Shapewriter. And for a few days more, you can get that for free with no expiration and it is not a beta. So I don't see a need for Swype right now:

    http://www.androidcentral.com/shapewriter-being-pulled-market-get-it-while-you-still-can [androidcentral.com]

    • by Threni (635302)

      They're all `for a few days` or beta only, right? What are they going to cost when they're out for good?

      And why does Swype disable my Desire's `pinch to zoom` occasionally? Hope that's fixed in the final release...assuming it's free, otherwise I won't bother.

      • by markdavis (642305)

        >They're all `for a few days` or beta only, right? What are they going to cost when they're out for good?

        It is likely Swype's beta will expire. Shapewriter will not. The reason Shaprewriter is free for a while is because they are being bought by Nuance. Not sure WHY they are related, but Shapewriter will disappear from the market soon, and probably be released as a different product.

        The one thing that is missing in *both* is that the voice recognition button is missing, which is a real drag.

        • by Threni (635302)

          > The one thing that is missing in *both* is that the voice recognition button is missing, which is a real drag.

          There's a mod which does that (htc_ime) which works well, for the Desire at least. It uses the voice search which you get from pressing the search button, but you can use it anywhere you can enter text with the keyboard. It adds a bunch of other features too, such as limited gesture support (swipe left to delete last sentence, etc).

    • by hedwards (940851)
      It's already been pulled. Or at least I can't find it, and I'm looking with FroYo.
  • Dasher (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TeknoHog (164938) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @06:45PM (#32635334) Homepage Journal

    A "sweeping" mobile input method always reminds me of Dasher. I guess one reason why it doesn't get all the attention is that it must be tuned to a particular corpus of text, so it's not immediately usable like something qwerty-based.

    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/ [cam.ac.uk]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by numb7rs (1689018)
      I used to use Dasher on my old iPAQ from 2004. For the first couple of weeks, it was only slightly better than the OSK. Then as its dictionary of my words (and my practice) grew, I could eventually use it at speeds rivalling a QWERTY keyboard, probably after a couple of months or so.

      It also looked awesome while you 'typed'. Like some sort of bizarre arcade game.
  • by 56 (527333) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @06:53PM (#32635398)
    They definitely are still letting people download it - I just installed it on my HTC Magic. It works quite well, shocking so actually. In vertical one-handed typing, I'm already much faster and more accurate than I ever was with the regular keyboard. However, the swype idea doesn't make much sense for horizontal typing - there's no real way to use both hands so what's the point? I would prefer to be able to stick with the traditional keyboard for horizontal typing. That said, I'm going to stick with it for a few days and see how it goes under real-world circumstances.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AusIV (950840)
      Enable word prediction in the Swype Settings menu, and swype will behave quite similarly to the standard keyboard if you tap letters one at a time instead of swyping. That said, from my initial impressions I'm unconvinced that using both hands to type on the horizontal keyboard would be faster than swyping on the vertical keyboard.
      • by 56 (527333)
        Well it's been a couple of days and I've basically just stopped using landscape - It's faster to use swype in portrait than it was to use the regular keyboard in landscape. It's taking some getting used to, but it's really very fast.
  • by unfortunateson (527551) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:46PM (#32635736) Journal

    It beats the living snot out of the standard soft keyboard, and may be faster than the slider keyboard on my Moto Droid, except that I can use *two* thumbs on the slider.
    I haven't yet gotten used to the right actions to say, "no, it's not one of those eight words" without having to reswype the whole word -- annoying on lengthy words. It's accuracy is pretty darn good anyway, even if I swerve because I'm going the wrong way toward a letter, it often gets the right word.

    Only app I haven't gotten it to work on is Twisty, an interactive fiction interpreter -- it would be a big help there.

    • by Samah (729132)

      I haven't yet gotten used to the right actions to say, "no, it's not one of those eight words" without having to reswype the whole word -- annoying on lengthy words.

      I don't know about Swype, but I've found ShapeWriter seems to actually work better with longer words since there are less matches for a given pattern. ShapeWriter gives you a choice of ten words.

      It's accuracy is pretty darn good anyway, even if I swerve because I'm going the wrong way toward a letter, it often gets the right word.

      Yep, if I accidentally stop on the wrong letter and have to change direction, ShapeWriter (and I'm assuming Swype) seems to have enough fuzzy logic to say "the user has no idea what they're doing, so I'll just guess" and gets it right. :)

    • How does it deal with words like "fuck"? T9 is horrible if you like to use any sort of colorful language.

      • by AusIV (950840)
        All you have to do to add a word to the Swype dictionary is type it in manually once. After that you can get it by swyping. I've added a few colorful words to my dictionary that way, and it seems to have no filters keeping them out.
    • Except it is fucking *censored*.

      Try swyping words like shit, cunt, fuck... Yep, it doesn't work. Swype will not predict "offensive" words.

      Aren't these words part of the English language? Aren't they in every single modern English dictionary? Then why can't input them on my phone keyboard? I guess I need to add them to my user dictionary as if they were something special and not part of normal day-to-day communication.

      This is totally unacceptable. After Apple censoring apps that are adaptations of c [tinyurl.com]
      • by delinear (991444)

        Actually, it's not - it will use whatever your standard dictionary is, so if you already have those words, Swype is happy to let you use them. Now, the basic Android dictionary probably doesn't come pre-loaded with your favourite expletives, but tell me, in what way does "doesn't come as part of the standard dictionary" equate to "you're not allowed to write those words"? You've never used a slang word that's not in the official dictionary? If you choose to limit your expression to words that are only in an

      • Then type it out manually.
  • Privacy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by solevita (967690) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @08:20PM (#32635922)
    Presumably this is going to phone home and report usage stats from my usual mix of sexting and work emails? Android has already warned me of this on installation. I'll give it a go, but not for anything I wouldn't want made public.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It will say that anytime you install -any- input method.

  • Flick Input (Score:3, Informative)

    by JanneM (7445) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @08:28PM (#32635954) Homepage

    I really prefer flick input, to be honest - 9-key layout, and a small "drag" in different directions determine which character to enter. You got big, easy to hit keys, and you're not dependent on the predictive input to get words right. I started using it for Japanese, but it's so convenient I now use it for English as well. Now, if I could add the Swedish characters to the Xperia Japanese/English flick keyboard I would never have to switch input method again.

    • by NemosomeN (670035)
      Is it available for Android? I like Swype so far (15 minutes of usage), but I have been searching for a way to input Japanese, too.
  • I don't think it's possible to communicate how slowly this runs on the (original) MyTouch3G. At least in my experience, it took 5-10 seconds for it to recognize that I had even started a word - when it finally did, it took another 5 seconds to trace it out. Something is obviously wrong here, there can't be any way it's supposed to be this slow. As I'm not that enthralled with the idea, I don't have the inclination to figure it out, so whatever. Honestly, I've had problems with apps (and the OS in general)
    • by FnordX (115944)

      I have it loaded on my G1, and it's running just fine. You might wanna check out your hardware, or possibly uninstall some stuff that runs in the background.

  • by zizzybaloobah (1021731) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:24PM (#32636514)
    Swype's marketing plan is to *only* distribute Swype via phone manufacturers, *not* through channels like Android's Market. Reasons given included being a small company, limited ability to provide end-user support, yada yada yada. This is despite scores of users who willingly want to fling money their way, regardless of support options (or lack thereof). I know when my Swype beta expired, I was heartbroken. You just can't go back to tapping after Swyping. I tried SlideIT and Shapewriter. I really disliked SlideIT, and while Shapewriter was tolerable, it was still no Swype. I admit I may be biased having used Swype first. I was elated to see the day after my beta expired, that they opened up the official program to anyone who wanted to sign up. Perhaps the Swype folks are having at least a small change of heart regarding their marketing stratgey.
    • by nloop (665733)
      No, they aren't changing their strategy, they are just getting more people hooked to prove the worth of their product as they hawk it to manufacturers. It is the same person who was behind T9 input, and he made a boatload of money off that. Why deal with piracy, direct to consumer sales, and support when you can sell to manufacturers, make your money, and let them handle all follow up?
      • Oh yes, because their current strategy has been soooo successful keeping Swype out of the hands of unregistered users who have probably done more to promote Swype with their positive word-of-mouth than any marketing scheme could accomplish. (And if I happen to have, or want to purchase, a device that doesn't come with Swype - then I'm out of luck? the SlideIT and ShapeWriter folks are going to be loving that)
        • by hedwards (940851)
          I'm guessing that they're gunning to be bought out by Google. A lot of start ups do that, in fact much of what we know today as Google was previously created by somebody else.
      • by daver00 (1336845)

        I would guess that this is heading towards some future update for android, although if they want to license it, that could be difficult. Why why why won't I be able to buy it!!

    • Yeah, it's kinda funny - they could sell access to the beta for $5, offer no technical support at all, and they'd STILL be swimming in money. I would pay $20 for this app when it comes out, and it'd be worth every cent.
  • I've used both, and prefer ShapeWriter

  • I'm sorry, I shouldn't be on this thread, for some reason I thought Swype == VoIP + BitTorrent.

  • ...specifically because I hate word prediction/correction and always turn it off.

    And holy shit! This is awesome!

  • I've been using Swype for the past couple days and it works pretty well. I turned off the 'vibrate on keypress" and using sounds which get annoying. Its pretty accurate and nice being able to use with one hand. I also recommend not using the "suggesting words" option, I kind of liked the spell check with every word for the Android keyboard but the suggestion box for Swype gets in the way of the screen AND its annoying when typing in numbers.
    • by delinear (991444)
      That's my only niggle, too - I'd like to be able to specify the layout of the suggested word panel, or just use the default Android one. For most words it's not an issue as Swype does a good job of getting it right without prompting a choice, but for smaller words this would greatly speed things up.
      • by jjmiv (1195457)
        i think they should just put a row above the keyboard to list suggested words, that would be a lot easier!
  • Since it hasn't been mentioned, I think it's worth highlighting the fact that ShapeWriter is currently free and available on the android market, with features similar to those of Swype. As far as I'm concerned, it has really changed the way I use my android phone's keyboard (HTC Desire).
  • Is this something that could be useful in place of a hardware keyboard? There are IR projected devices, or some other invention perhaps, I dunno, where a touch input (Star Trek!!!) can be used in place of a key pressing physical device. Or are we not judging like for like? Is there software for use with normal keyboard that predicts what you type allowing you to use tab-completion or something?

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