A little over a year ago, Swype announced at TechCrunch50 2008 that they were going to “change how the world inputs text on screens”. By allowing the user to type words by tracing a path between its letters rather than tapping them out one-by-one, Swype claims to speed up typing on a mobile handset while doing away with accuracy annoyances. Swype is the brainchild of Randy Marsden, developer of the Windows Mobile onscreen keyboard, and Cliff Kushler, co-inventor of the T9 input method.
Early next month, Swype will make the jump from the demo stage to a real world product as it debuts on the Verizon Samsung Omnia II.
I got the chance to fiddle with Swype on a prototype Omnia II a few months back (albeit only for a few minutes) and was pleasantly surprised with how well it worked. I threw a bunch of random words at it of varying lengths, and I couldn’t get it to falter. If there was more than one possible option, Swype would present it in a drop-down list. It was quick, it was easy, and I enjoyed the hell out of the 10 minutes I had with it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s sort of magical; to onlookers, it’s like you’re scribbling madness only to end up with a perfectly coherent sentence. I was almost immediately typing at around the same rate as I do on my iPhone after 2 years of practice. Considering that this is all happening on a resistive touchscreen (with my finger, rather than a stylus) on WinMo 6.5, a platform I’ve berated in the past for its keyboard shortcomings, I’d say that’s quite a feat.
While the Omnia II has been available in other countries for some time now, Verizon’s is the first to sport Swype support. Look for Swype on the Verizon Omnia II when it hits the shelves on December 2nd at $199 with a 2 year contract.