How To Master Typing with Swype Keyboard for Android

By Ryan Whitwam

Learn the secrets of the gesture-based text entry solution for Android.

Since it is that time of year, the fine folks at Swype have reopened their ongoing beta for Android devices. That means you can have yourself some gesture text input for absolutely free. Swype is unlike most other text input options. Instead of tapping, you draw a line passing through the necessary letters. It's been imitated, but if you ask us, not yet duplicated. Some users aren't sold on Swype just yet. 


Download the beta, and get started

You will have to log in with your Swype Beta credentials to get the actual keyboard APK. In this new version, you will be asked if you want the full version (10MB), or the lighter one (2.5MB). The only difference is that the full version has a lot of languages, and the lite version is only English/Spanish. More than likely, the 2.5MB download will do. 

Now just go to your main system settings and enable Swype. The installer should actually provide a link. If not, go to Language and Keyboard in your settings. Tap the checkbox for Swype to enable it. Now, in any text input box, long-press and select Input Method in the popup. Choose Swype, and you’re off to the races. 

Getting comfortable, and learning the tricks

If Swype does not understand exactly what you are trying to type, it will pop up a suggestion box. The top option is the most likely word. In our experience, that word is almost always right. But this is another pain point for people that stops them from enjoying Swype. This box is right in the middle of everything. You may feel like you have to interact with it, but you don't. Just keep going and that top word will be inserted. The suggestion box is only there if you really mess up.  

At any time you can double-tap a word to pull up the correction window for it. Also, don't tap on the word box, swipe across it instead. Just pass through the choice you need if you need to manually select a word there. If worse comes to worse, you can still tap on keys in a traditional way to enter a non-dictionary word.
Swype will auto capitalize the first word in a sentence like other keyboards. If you need to manually capitalize, you don't need to stop with the gestures and tap the Cap key. How old fashioned that would be. Just drag up off the keyboard from the letter you need capitalized. The keyboard will change to all caps to let you know you've gone far enough. The continue swiping and the rest of the word will come up as normal. 

On other feature we like is the Editing keyboard. Draw a line from the Swype key to the Sym key, and you get a great layout with cursor control, text selection, and copy/paste controls. This is excellent for devices that don't have hardware trackpads or trackballs. 

Changing settings to suit you

The other big option to look at is the Speed vs. Accuracy entry. This slider has Fast Response on the left, and Error Tolerance at the right. If you move the slider to the right, you can be sloppier with your typing. Swype will spend more time trying to discern your meaning. This takes processing power, so if your phone is a little slow, Error Tolerance might not be the best option. Sliding to the Fast Response side means a few more errors, but faster input on slower phones.  

Follow these tips, and you should find yourself flying through text entry in no time. Swype is almost instantly usable, but you need to do a little digging to find all the amazing things it can do. If you've been using Swype, let us know how you like it.