A number of my readers have pointed me towards Swype. It is a new way to input text on touch based devices, such as phones and tablet PC's. Instead of tapping your finger on each character you simple swipe over each character in a word. The software will then translate the path you made into words.
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I must admit that this is both very impressive and puzzling at the same time. According to the creators you don't really have to be very accurate, the software will magically figure out what word you intended to write. But how does it do this?
You know, when I am writing something on my iPod Touch, it too can magically correct my spelling errors if I hit the wrong key. For instance if I wanted to write "finger", but instead happen to hit "d" instead of "f", it will automatically correct my mistake.
Except that it doesn't always work that way. My iPod sometimes writes "singer" instead of "finger" - when I hit "d" instead of "f". Both are plausible words. And if I happen to hit "v" instead of "f", it will either change that to "finger" or "Ginger".
How does Swype solve this problem? What does it actually do when you swipe your finger over characters that have more than one possible result?
I did notice that the Swype keypad has extra space between some of the characters, and that might be the way they are able to solve it.
As for speed it really does seem mighty impressive. I did some simulated tests, and I was able to "swipe" about 40% faster than when tapping with a single finger... and I was 30% faster at swiping than using two finger tapping on my iPod Touch (which is how I usually write emails on that device).
Apart from that, since you are not actually writing any characters, you are not likely to make spelling errors. That is a big plus for the Swype interface.
But if it gets it wrong, it doesn't matter if it allows you to swipe with up to 40 characters per minute. It would take you much longer to correct an incorrect word, than simple typing it out manually to begin with.
I need to get my hands on a Swype capable device to test this some more...
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