Swype It

In the age of smartphones, two methods of typing have come to dominate: touch (iPhone) or physical keyboard (BlackBerry).

Now there’s a third option, and it may just revolutionize how we use smartphones. It’s called Swype, and the typing technique is a key feature of the Motorola Droid X, a new Android-based phone that goes on sale July 15 at Verizon for $200 (after contract). Swype is also available on the MyTouch 3G at T-Mobile and the Samsung Omnia II (Verizon), and there is hope that an iPhone app will be introduced.

The Droid X has put a bright light on Swype, and it should. I’ve been using Swype for about three weeks, and I dread going back to standard touch-typing when I return my review unit.

With Swype, you simply drag your finger across the keyboard, connecting letters to spell a word. When you spell a word, lift your finger and a space is inserted. Then put your finger down and spell the next word. After a while, you’ll be messaging at a very fast pace.

The amazing thing about Swype is how intuitive the software is; as a user, you do your best to “swype” words accurately, but we are a nation of poor spellers. No worries: As long as you’re close, Swype has an uncanny ability to get the right words. When it is confused, a list of possible choices pop up on the screen.

The more you Swype, the better you become. I’ve become pretty fast. More impressively, my wife, a dedicated BlackBerry user who hates the iPhone’s touch screen, is seriously considering the Droid X for her next phone because she loves to Swype.

I don’t like swyping when I use the Droid X as GPS unit. I found inserting addresses more difficult than touch-typing. (You can use voice commands on the Droid X for directions, as well, a better option.)

If you haven’t seen how it works, go to You Tube and put Swype in the search box. You can watch several videos, but the real impact comes when you try it yourself. It takes getting used to, but once you figure it out, you’ll be surprised at how long-winded your messages have become. – Eric Benderoff