Swype Finally Rolls Out Of Beta, Hits The Google Play Store For $0.99


Way back in March of 2010, Swype launched a super private Beta of its then totally mind-blowing (and now often imitated) swipe-to-type Android keyboard. While they’ve since shipped it out-of-the-box on dozens of handsets, opened the Beta to pretty much anyone, and sold for $100M, they’ve never gotten around to ditching that Beta tag — until today. (Three years in Beta? Who do they think they are, Google? ZING.)

This morning, Swype hits the Google Play store for the first time.

Swype will actually launch on Google Play in two separate versions: a free trial version that’ll work for 30 days, and a 99c version that, of course, works forever. The company says they’ll roll the two builds into one eventually, but didn’t want to worry about the complexities of In-App purchase stuff in this first release. Also, don’t be surprised if that 99c price goes up after a few weeks.

Though the Swype Beta program has been open to just about anyone with a passing interest since June of 2010, getting it onto your handset has always been a pretty convoluted process. You needed to punch in your email details (they later dropped this requirement), configure your handset to allow app downloads from third-party sources, then rig up an installer which did all the required system tweaking. It wasn’t brain surgery, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as hopping into the Play Store and tapping “Install”.

Meanwhile, the competition has flooded in. While Swype (now a division of Nuance) focused on partnering with OEMs to get its keyboard installed on handsets at the factory, alternatives like SwiftKey, SlideIT, and ShapeWay were happy to go straight to the consumer. Hell, even Android’s own official built-in keyboard picked up a similar feature as of version 4.2.

So are they hitting the Play Store too late? Perhaps — but it seems they don’t mind.

“Yeah, we might be late. That’s an honest concern,” Aaron Sheedy, Nuance’s VP of Mobile Product, told me in an interview, “But the adoption of smartphones is still just so huge, and there’s a whole generation of people just coming online. Our language coverage is such that we’ll do really well in the [international] markets; we’ve got [support for] 62 languages, plus a bunch of dialects.”

And if they are too late? It doesn’t matter too much. OEMs like Samsung and Nokia are still paying the company licensing fees on every Swype-enabled handset, and they see that being their primary source of revenue for quite some time.

(As for when Apple is going to give in and Swype-ify the quickly antiquating iOS keyboard: while the company says they’ve met with Apple every few months to give’m heck for the state of their keyboard, there hasn’t been any official progress on that front.)

If you’ve already got Swype installed on your handset, the version hitting the Play Store today should look much like what you’ve grown accustomed to. It does pack at least three features that were previously exclusive to Beta users, however:

  • “Living Language”: Swype will automatically detect where you are when a phone is turned on and add local words to its dictionary (like Singlish words if you’re in Singapore).
  • Smart Touch: If you regularly tap between two keys rather than directly on the one you mean, Swype will automatically adjust to your sloppy key presses and tune its predictive texting accordingly.
  • Smart Editor: In addition to predicting what words you’re about to type based on those that you’ve typed so far, Swype analyzes full sentences as soon as you punch in the punctuation. If it spots a word that doesn’t generally work in that context, it’ll underline it and offer up the word it thinks you mean if you tap it.

Swype hasn’t hit the Play Store just yet, but it should be up within the next hour or so. We’ll update this post with a link as soon as it goes live.Update: It’s live! Here’s the 30 day free trial version, and here’s the 99c version.

More TechCrunch

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’