The popular Swype keyboard for Google Android smartphones is now available for tablets running Android 3.x Honeycomb. Or rather, a beta version of Swype 3.0 is available for tablets. You’ll need to register for a Swype account to take part in the beta test, and you’ll need to be willing to put up with a few kinks that the company still needs to work out.
Swype’s claim to fame is that the keyboard allows you to “type” without lifting your finger. You can just drag from one letter to the next and Swype uses predictive text technology to figure out what word you meant to type. That can be a huge advantage on a tiny smartphone display where two-finger typing can be difficult. But how does Swype hold up on a 10 inch tablet?
I took Swype 3.0 beta for a spin on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the keyboard looks great in both portrait and landscape modes. It can also use predictive text to offer suggestions while you tap out letters on the keyboard instead of just when you drag your fingers, so if you’d prefer to use the wide keyboard like a standard 10-inch tablet keyboard, you can. Swype 3.0 is also resizable, allowing you to shrink the keyboard to a more finger-friendly size and locate it either in the bottom center, bottom left, or bottom right poortion of the display.
There’s just one major problem with Swype 3.0 beta: It’s slow. In my testing, it often took a second or two for a letter or word to show up on screen after I entered it on the keyboard. So instead of speeding up text entry, Swype is actually slowing things down because I constantly have to keep an eye on on the screen and wait between words to make sure Swype doesn’t select the wrong word from its library.
That said, this is just a beta release. Hopefully the beta testing and bug killing process will speed things up.
Swype generally comes preloaded on devices and the company likely won’t offer version 3.0 in the Android Market anytime soon. But if you want to test it on your tablet or smartphone, you can sign up for the beta.