A little bit after I got my HTC Incredible, Swype became available for Android in beta. Swype is an alternate keyboard. For iPhone users that don’t get the concept, with an Android phone you can swap out the standard keyboard for something different.
There are several Android alternate keyboards. Some try to predict the next letter and make the most likely letters much bigger. But Swype is different. Instead of touching each letter individually, with Swype you touch the first letter, keep your finger on the keypad, and swipe your finger from one letter to the next. The software figures out what word you intended.
Depending on the word, it isn’t always unambiguous, so Swype presents you with a list of options. The software isn’t perfect (it’s still in beta) and doing double letters (i.e. the same letter twice in a row) is a bit tricky (it’s best to do a tiny loop on that letter). Seems like extra effort, so why do it?
Because it’s really fast.
Like world record fast. Like quadriplegic dude types faster than you fast.
When I first installed it, I hadn’t been using my phone for very long. It seemed a bit faster, but it was hard to tell. I got some nice envy from iPhone users, so that probably encouraged me to stick with it. It’s really handy holding the phone in one hand. But I wasn’t sure if it was a big deal or not.
Until I lost it.
Something funky happened. It’s not available via the Android Market so the installation process is a bit different. I was using it one day and I got a message, “your license has expired, please upgrade”. So my first thought was, “crap, they are out of beta and now they want to charge me”. But I couldn’t find any obvious way to upgrade. So I figured I’d check their website later when I got home. No biggie. But then I needed to send a text.
And this was just a text. 50 letters tops. Seriously, torture. Typing the regular way was soooooo slow. I vowed that whatever Swype was charging, I would pay it willingly. The whole, “maybe I’ll switch to iPhone now that it’s on Verizon” thing went out the window.
I got home, checked their website and saw no mention of charging for anything, though there was some mention of a new version. So I just tried uninstalling and reinstalling.
Back in business.
I also paid a bit more attention to the speed and accuracy stats on their website. Sure, it’s marketing, but they are claiming average typing speeds twice as fast as “point and tap” phone methods.
I’m telling you, it’s twice as fast. It was just flat out painful doing anything the old way. I couldn’t bear it.
So while I understand that telling a company that you’ll pay whatever they want to charge is not exactly shrewd negotiating, if they ever do decide to charge for it, I’m buying it with a big fat smile on my face.
If you are on Android, join the beta here.