Last week, Swype for iOS went free, and since third party keyboards are a new thing for iOS, I thought I'd give one a shot. Swype has been around for quite a while on Android devices, and I have a lot of friends that swear by it. What I found was an experience that was certainly kind of neat, but is a long way from being ready to be a full time keyboard.
The predictions are super neat, I'm pretty sure they use some sort of ESP to figure out what I want to write. Except when it doesn't. Especially with shorter words, I find that the predictions can go off the rails here and there. Now, I know that it will get better with time, but patience is not one of my virtues.
It is super useful for one-handed use. As I waited for my delicious burger at Five Guys, I received a text from my wife. Instead of the painstakingly slow one handed iOS typing, I was able to quickly Swype out a message and respond.
Also, the addition of the comma next to the spacebar on the standard keyboard is a really neat touch.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here: Swype for iOS is definitely still really, really rough around the edges. While having the technology on an iOS platform is really neat, I can't see it being super useful for iPads, and it still has a lot of maturing to do for iPhones.
The biggest annoyance I had was that they switched the symbols keyboard around. What on earth possessed the devs to think that was a good idea? "Well yeah, the iPhone has had the same keyboard layout since 2007, but I'm sure people won't expect their punctuation to stay in the same place. Let's just move that around a bit." Absolutely infuriating.
Regular iPhone symbols keyboard:
Swype symbols keyboard:
I also had some bugs where I couldn't access the keyboard when I opened applications, but they were so intermittent that I couldn't make heads or tails of them.
Even with all of those things in mind, I have a hard time saying whether or not I'd recommend the keyboard. It really is useful, and that caught me off guard. For quick responses to texts while I'm busy doing other things, Swype is quite nice. For longer form things, it actually feels like more work than typing with my thumbs, so I wouldn't use it for email, for example.
If you can pick it up for free, then I recommend at least giving it a shot and deciding for yourself as to whether or not you find it useful. For me, I'll be keeping it on my phone for the time being, we'll see if the little annoyances get better over time, or if it finally annoys me enough to delete the keyboard entirely.