June 20, 2012 at 2:12 PM ET
Here's some good news for users of Swype, the popular alternative keyboard for Android. The app has gotten a significant update, adding advanced next-word prediction, a shared dictionary between type and speech, and more.
Swype lets you draw a line between letters instead of hitting each one individually, a technique which, once learned, can be faster than two-thumb typing. But there are cases where it is easily confused. For instance, if you drag your finger from the P to the T, the software would be unable to determine whether you were trying to spell pot, pit, put, or pout — all those words lie along the same "path."
The new version of Swype addresses this by looking at some basic word frequency data, and also analyzing the words you just typed. So if the last word you wrote was "peach," it will know you probably meant to write "pit" next. But if it's a new sentence, "put" is far more likely. If it works as advertised, this should really speed up typing on Swype by reducing the number of times you have to select the word you meant from a prompt.
Your personal dictionary (words get added to it whenever you type and confirm one the app doesn't know) will also be synced online with Dragon Dictation, which supplies the voice input option. That way you can dictate uncommon names and acronyms without a worry.
The new version is available for free. You can download it here for Android and a few other platforms — but not iOS. Looks like that particular feature didn't make it into this release.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.