Sweet Swype: Speedy One-Finger Typing

Have you used Swype? It is text-input software designed for touch-screen devices, and it aims to change the way we text and type. You don't tap the letters of the QWERTY keyboard that pops up onscreen; rather, you swipe one finger across the keyboard to spell out words. There's no need to ever lift that finger, as the program's predictive text capabilities determines those words based on the path you've traced. Check out this demo from Swype's TechCrunch50 presentation, where they debuted the software for analysts and investors. If you haven't seen it in action yet, it's wild stuff.

But some of you already might be using the software, as Swype now ships on a number of devices, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab as well as the Nokia C7, Motorola Droid, and myTouch 3G and 4G, among other smartphones. And the company recently updated its Android beta and reopened the registration process to download the free app (currently available only on Swype's site). Apple device owners remain Swypeless, although Apple has reportedly expressed interest in the software.

The program's development team was led by Cliff Kushler, the co-inventor of T9, which is the standard predictive text-entry software used by most mobile phones. With Swype, the company claims, you can far surpass your current texting or touch-screen-tapping productivity -- to the tune of 60 words per minute. Interestingly, in late January, quadriplegic Hank Torres set a new world record for hands-free typing speed, using Swype in conjunction with a head-tracking device called TrackerPro. (Kushler has actually developed a number of assistive technology programs.)

I haven't yet used Swype, but I am intrigued -- despite the Palm graffiti flashbacks stirred by that demo. A random sampling of Internet forum comments reveals mixed feedback, but some users are raving about it, including one of my M&C colleagues. Have any of you used it, and was it faster than the alternatives? Feel free to comment here.