A huge swath of users jumped up and cheered during yesterday’s iOS 8 announcement when one simple option was mentioned: Swype. iOS 8 will be open to changing keyboards from the default Apple keyboard, much like Android has for years, and Swype is one of the best. If you aren’t excited about this, you probably haven’t used Swype yet.
What makes Swype so special? Unlike traditional keyboards, you don’t thumb type with Swype. Instead, you slide your fingers from key to key, and the software figures out what you were trying to type. It handles multiple languages, autocorrect, and can even be resized and themed. Here’s a quick demo video explaining some of Swype’s Android features (and the intention is for these to come to iOS as well!):
I had the opportunity to chat with Aaron Sheedy from Nuance (parent company of Swype), and he was understandably quite excited about the future of Swype and working with iOS. We talked about why iOS users should be excited about Swype, and he hit upon a few areas where using the Swype keyboard makes smartphone usage that much better.
One of the big ones is one-handed use. You can easily Swype with your thumb, even on a larger screen or while juggling something in your other hand, and you can do it quickly. Swype is also looking to push smartphone keyboard accuracy to a new level. Users can add new words to their dictionary and it will sync across any devices they have with Swype, which is a very cool feature, especially if you spend a lot of time typing unusual or unusually spelled words! There’s also the ability to add “living language” which allows Swype to use crowd sourced data to further improve autocorrect.
As Swype matures there are more new features coming from that same concept. They’re looking to add back corrections into the autocorrect, meaning it will look at the whole sentence in context to determine if there’s a type. Often autocorrect will read a word as spelled correctly and not flag it as a mistake, even if it is when you read the whole sentence. For example, “This van be a big deal for Swype” is obviously a typo, as “van” should be “can”…and the idea is that back correction would read that as a typo and fix or flag it for you. Normal autocorrect might read “van” as a real word and not flag the error.
Down the road, Swype hopes to add some in-app purchase options to customize the keyboard, such as themes or other add-ons, which will make an already personalized keyboard even better. In the meantime, they’re aiming to bring the full power of the Android version of Swype to iOS, and if you’re an iOS user, this should have you out of your skin with excitement!