I finally got to play with Swype this week at the Mobile Focus event in Barcelona. This is an application that GoMo News has been following for months. If you’ve got a touchscreen phone then you’ll probably be using it soon enough. I’m serious – this app is so good, you won’t be able to avoid it.
Swype is the only app I’ve seen that actually makes text input work on a touchscreen device. The problem with entering text on a touchscreen phone is that soft keyboards are basically horrible. On an E71 or a Blackberry, you have tactile buttons and that works fine. But a touchscreen isn’t designed for text entry, and there was no way to get around tapping in one letter at a time. But Swype has realised the potential of touchscreens to do something that physically cannot do: enter entire words in a single stroke. You simply draw a line on the softkeyboard with your finger, passing through each letter in the word you want to type. And then it pops onto the screen.
Check out the video:
I spoke to Swype CEO Mike McSherry at MobileFocus, and he gave me a device with Swype on it to play with. There was no learning curve. It felt immediately natural – before I finished writing my first text, I was entering words like “unnecessary” in about two seconds. It really is that fast.
Interestingly, the technology behind Swype was developed by Cliff Kushler – the man who invented T9 predictive text. Here is a mind that truly understands text input!
Swype is starting to get pre-installed on smartphones in several countries around the world. It’s aready on the Samsung Omnia II and HTC myTouch in America, and it will be on the upcoming HTC HD2 from T-Mobile. More importantly, this week Swype announced a huge influx of capital from NTT DOCOMO. Tomoya Hemmi, President and CEO of DOCOMO Capital said “Swype’s cutting edge technology is changing the way people communicate on touch-screen devices… there is tremendous potential for Swype’s technology to revolutionize text input.”
For once, I don’t think that’s just press release hyperbole. Swype will be an incredible new update to one of the stalwarts of mobile communications – SMS.