I’ve been waiting patiently for a while for the Swype keyboard for Android to become more readily available. Up until recently, you could only use it if you were lucky to have it preinstalled on your phone or you were privileged enough to be part of the very limited beta programme.
However, as of today they’ve opened the beta up to anyone who cares to register for it.
Head over to http://beta.swype.com and sign up, and you’ll be sent an email to download the software. Because it’s a beta, it isn’t distributed through the marketplace, so it’s downloaded as an APK file. As such, you need to enable your phone to allow non-marketplace software sources but once you’ve done that it’s all plain sailing. If you do get stuck, there’s a very thorough tutorial.
Having signed up, downloaded and installed Swype on my HTC Legend, I have to say that my first impressions are that it must be some kind of black magic! I haven’t found a word that it doesn’t get right first time – I’ve even been trying to trip it up with obscure words. You don’t even need to be that precise with your gestures, it still seems to know which word you wanted.
Now that they’re allowing more people to use Swype, I can see it becoming the default Android keyboard for most people. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google licence it and build it into the OS itself. It really is that good.
Got an Android phone? Get Swyping.
*** UPDATE ***
As you can read in the comments below, Dave has pointed out that there is no UK localisation at present. Which means that you’re going to get American spellings for some things. I actually hadn’t noticed – I guess there aren’t *that* many words that are spelled differently for it to be a constant annoyance (I reserve the right to change my mind on this of course….)
*** UPDATE 2 ***
Having now done a bit of research, I’ve discovered how to teach Swype new words. This gives you a workaround for the lack of UK spellings. To teach it a new word, tap out the letters individually followed by a space – this is then added to the custom dictionary. So if you, for example, create a new text message and go through and manually tap in a few UK spellings of common words – things that end in “-ise” or “-our” – Swype will then recognISE (see what I did there?) them the next time around. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but better than nothing while we wait for a proper UK version?