Time for a little history lesson. Way back in the summer of 2010, when smartphone screen sizes were still reasonable and people were still complaining about how hard it was to type on them, a little company called Swype Inc. thought it had the problem of touchscreen input licked. Android users went crazy trying to get into the beta for their gesture-based software keyboard, and tech blogs threw around words like "innovation" and "miracle" like rice at a wedding. Then the other shoe dropped: Swype was only interested in selling its slidey wares to hardware manufactures, as a tie-in for brand new phones - they had no intention of selling their nifty keyboard directly to end users.
Swype's beta client received a major update this morning, and the popular 3rd party keyboard is now at version 1.3, and this major release brings a host of new features like dictionary sync and backup, themes, "hotwords," even more languages, and a new version of the tablet layout.
Here's the list of all the new features, in detail:
Dictionary Backup & Sync: Swype now backs up and syncs a user’s personal dictionary across any of their mobile devices. So now when nicknames like “Ollie” are added to a mobile phone, that word will be automatically added to the personal dictionary on a tablet as well as all other registered devices.
In the world of software keyboards, Swype has always been the odd man out. In this case, however, that's not necessarily a bad thing, because people who love Swype are emphatic about it. With the latest beta, Swype is now set to take on the entire world of software keyboards, as it has transformed into "four kinds of keyboard," thanks to Nuance.
How is this a four-in-one option? Firstly, you have the traditional Swype method of, well... swyping. Past that is where you'll start to see Nuance's hand on the keyboard, with XT9 input and the Dragon button for vocal dictation.
Back in October, Swype announced that with Swype BETA 3.26, the popular keyboard solution would have automatic update capabilities, replacing the tired routine of uninstalling Swype and using the proprietary installer with a significantly easier OTA process, which keeps all your settings intact.
In the keyboard's first OTA, which began rolling out today, Swype brings a context-based prediction engine, which learns from text you've already entered to better predict what you want (or meant) to say, while continually learning from your typing. For now, the prediction engine is only available in a few languages, but other languages are coming soon. Here's why Swype had to say about the new prediction engine:
As promised yesterday, the Swype team have released an update to the beta version of their keyboard that brings all of the same features as the recent NS4G-exclusive version, including gestures, personal dictionary, and a new feature called Swype Connect.
Swype Connect is a lightweight background service that collects Swype-specific data and ensures the integrity and validity of the installation, while reporting usage details and device information back to Swype's servers. Like most apps that collect such information, Swype Connect doesn't gather anything personal, just basic information that can then be used to enhance and improve future versions.