One of the greatest advantages of Android over other mobile operating systems is the many customization options it offers. Whereas on other platforms you’re stuck with one keyboard, on Android you have quite a selection to choose from. From Go Keyboard to everyone’s first love, SwiftKey to TouchPal and SlideIT to good old Swype. It is the latter that is grabbing headlines today. Swype keyboard has today moved from being a beta app and is now available for download and installation from Google’s Play Store.
Today, version 1.5 of Swype is available for installation by the public through the Google Play Store (which is where I highly recommend you install all your apps from due to the increase in number of malware targeting Android devices even on the Play Store itself).
Version 1.5 does not bring a lot of new features if you’re already familiar with it (More so those who’ve had the chance to use Swype on the Galaxy S III, you know what I mean. It is better there already). However there are several feature additions that are worth noting. These include:
- Improved voice control
- More than 60 downloadable languages
- Ability to change themes
- Smart Touch
- Smart Reselect
- Smart Editor
- Quick shortcut to Dragon Mobile Assistant (only for those users who have installed that app)
Other features are:
- Living Language – updates your dictionary with the latest trending words. Want an example? If you’re in Kenya then you are aware of the recent surge in popularity of the word Amicus. Whereas the word is a Latin one and only widely used in legal jargon, smartphone keyboards have been flagging it. With localized trending words monitoring in some select countries (Kenya not included though. Only 20 dialects in various regions worldwide are supported as of now), Swype should be able to know this.
- Personal Language Model – this encompasses how the keyboard’s app engine can use complex algorithms to determine your next input. In short it is what makes Swype what it is.
- Backup & Sync – nice feature. I’ve actually been using Titanium Backup to backup my keyboard data so that I can use it on my multiple devices. Not anymore, with this feature you simply sync your keyboard data and it is immediately available on the keyboard on all other Android devices where you’ve installed it.
Swype has been around for a while. However, it hasn’t been previously available to everyone. It only came pre-installed with certain devices. For long time users of Samsung Galaxy devices, Swype has been there for as long as you can remember. Until recently (as late as the release of the Galaxy Note II), Swype has been shipping as a stock app on all Samsung devices as an alternative to the default Samsung Android keyboard. It still retains its status on most mid-range and low-end Samsung Android devices and I doubt that is bound to change any time soon. For the high end models from the Galaxy Note II onwards, Samsung has partnered with SwiftKey.
Google (as from Android version 4.2.2) has incorporated much of the functionality of Swype to bring out a better stock keyboard so unless you’re a diehard Swype keyboard fan or are awed by the above features or simply aren’t using the latest Android version, you’ll be asking yourself why you also need this. I’m one big SwiftKey keyboard fan and don’t see myself dicthing it for anything else but I won’t mind giving Swype another try.
The app costs Ksh 83 (an equivalent of 99 cents or roughly a dollar). Nuance, the maker of Swype, says this pricing is for just a limited time, it is bound to go up.
The beta version of Swype is still available as a trial.
If you’re lucky, your device manufacturer will bundle this with your next smartphone purchase.
The app is available on Google Play Store now. Follow this link to be able to download and install it directly on your Android device or through the Play Store portal since it has not yet surfaced for those of us searching for it from Kenya.