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Swype beta for Android hands-on

 

Magical text input tool Swype has launched a beta version for Android users. We liked the sound of Swype when we first heard about it some months ago, so we signed up to give it a go on an HTC Magic and see what all the fuss was about.

Swype is a gesture-driven typing method for touchscreen mobiles that allows you to compose texts and emails by connecting the individual letters on a virtual Qwerty pad in 'join the dots' style, rather than hitting each individual key. Check out the video above for a demonstration of how it works.

You will make mistakes the first few times, but once you get used to the Swpye way of doing things you'll be sweeping through vowels and consonants like a pro, in portrait or landscape mode. We really like the way Swype automatically inserts a space between each word so you don't have to worry about hitting the space bar. It took us a while to realise this as instinct took over but when you get the hang of it, it's a real time saver.

It's not flawless, so if Swype inputs the wrong word then you can use the Swype key (located bottom left) to suggest suggest a number of alternatives. Some people will prefer this to having typos automatically corrected.

If, like us, you abhor leaving punctuation out of messages then you'll be pleased to know that the apostrophes in words like 'that's' and 'you'll' are automatically dropped in for you. It doesn't always work though - for some words (e.g. 'you're') you are better off heading south for the inverted comma key (next to the space bar).

As much as we like Swype for Android, there are a few things we'd like to see ironed out before the full release. For some reason the big smiley key is located right next to the delete key. This is really annoying when you want to make a couple of minor corrections and end up with ":-) :-)" instead. Although it is the same layout as the default Android keyboard, the smiley key seems a bit bigger than the one on the standard keyboard. Whatever the reason, with Swype we found ourselves accidentally emoting a lot more than we normally would. This makes us >:-(

It worth noting that Swype doesn't take too kindly to swearing. So if you're having a Malcolm Tucker moment you might want to head over to your phone's user dictionary and add your favourite rude words in advance. You can do this by going to: Settings > Locale & text > User dictionary.

After playing with the Swype beta for a day or so, we reckon we could grow to love it. That said, we're going to hold out to see what the full version brings before we consider a long-term relationship.

But why not give it a go yourself? To register for Swype beta for Android, visit the website here and enter an email address you can access on your phone. Once you've been sent the link you can start downloading - let us know how you get on in the comments below.

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