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Swype Beta is Quick and Intuitive: Hands-On

Unless we're typing on the new massive Samsung Galaxy Note II, we have trouble with the keys being too small for our fingers and we  make errors often. So we naturally wanted to check out Swype, the keyboard alternative that allows users to make one continuous finger motion across the keyboard, essentially connecting the dots between the letters in a word. The technology then guesses which word you're trying to spell, and gives other alternatives.

The Beta version includes such cool features as personal dictionary backup and sync (where users can add words or abbreviations to their personal dictionary and sync it across all their devices), a handwriting tool and keyboard themes (allows users to customize their keyboard).


To get started, we registered for the Beta on Swype's Web site, then downloaded the Beta Installer and logged in with our email address and password. We were then prompted to enter in our account activation code, which had been emailed to us. We could then download Skype. After we downloaded, it prompted us to enable Swype through Settings, which sent us to our Settings page where we tapped the check mark box next to Swype in our Language And Input settings.

Four Input Modes

After that exhausting download process, we were finally ready to use Swype. We went through the tutorial, which taught us how to enter text by Swyping, typing, writing or speaking. To Swype, we dragged our finger along the keyboard to play connect-the-dots with the keys. The traditional typing experience is enhanced by Word Completion, which provides word suggestions if you don't accurately type a word. The write tool lets you  use your own handwriting, dragging your finger across the screen like you would with a pen. The speak feature allows you to state your texts and emails allowed while Swype converts them into text.

When we tested Swype, it was pretty accurate, and most of the time if we put a mild amount of effort into connecting the dots, the technology was smart enough to guess which word we were trying to spell. Even in the instances that it couldn't guess the word right off the bat, it had alternative words in the bottom of the screen that you could select from.

When we tested out the Handwriting mode, we simply held down on the bottom left button in the keyboard then tapped Preferences. We made sure the box next to Enable Handwriting was checked, then we went back to our email draft and we tapped on the pencil icon in the bottom of the keyboard.

After that, a black box where the keyboard had been appeared, indicating where we should use our finger to draw letters and words. We could write words a letter at a time, or all in a row, and Swype could easily detect which words we were trying to spell very quickly.

Settings and Personalization

To add commonly-used words to our personal dictionary, we simply typed the word into our email draft and tapped the little hand button in the lower left hand of the keyboard twice. That highlighted the word and asked us if we'd like to add that word to the dictionary. The beginning of our email address, "mklinefelter," would auto-correct to "misinterpret" if we didn't add it to our Personal Dictionary, so we tapped the button to add it.

If you want to delete a word from your Personal Dictionary, just double-tap that little hand button again and Swype will ask you to confirm word deletion.

To personalize our Swype experience, we held down the little hand button in the lower left corner of our keyboard, which took us to our Settings. We then tapped Personalization, where we could change our keyboard theme, edit our dictionary and sign in to Facebook, Gmail or Twitter so names of our contacts could be added to our dictionary.

When we tapped Edit Dictionary, we were taken to a list of words that were not in the dictionary but that we used often when texting or emailing, with check boxes next to each word. If we tapped the check box, the word was added to our Personal Dictionary.

To personalize our keyboard theme, we tapped Change Keyboard Theme, then had the option to choose from Classic, Cloud, Cream, Magenta, Mercury, Midnight, Night, Red, Silver, Storm and Sunrise. Each theme just varied a bit in color. We chose Red, then tapped Accept when prompted.

We took a look at Swype Gestures, which are simple shortcuts on the keyboard for such actions as getting to the Edit keyboard, the Number keyboard and hiding the keyboard. We appreciate the shortcuts, but we're not sure how long it would take us to remember all of these extra actions.

All in all, we appreciated the Swype experience. It yielded fast and accurate results, and we appreciated the Personal Dictionary and personalization options. Whether you're more comfortable connecting the dots on the keyboard or enabling the handwriting mode, Swype provides an easy typing experience for those who aren't fans of classic typing.