One of the reasons I prefer using Android smartphones is the abundance and functionality of software keyboard options.
One of my favorites, Swype, just released an update that significantly improves the accessiblity features for those needing an alternative method for text entry.
I primarily use Swype because of the ability to slide around the keyboard to enter text, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are folks who need advanced voice control because they are unable to touch and manipulate the keyboard and that is where Nuance Communications advancements in voice technology come into play.
As stated in the press release, Swypes new features include:
- Continuous Dictation: Swype now includes continuous phrase-based dictation, allowing people to see words and phrases appear on their screen as they speak. And users can select a dictation language separately from their keyboard language. So, if a user likes to Swype in English but dictate in Spanish, they can now do so without having to switch keyboards.
- Accessibility: The Swype keyboard now supports Android’s “Talkback” and “Explore by Touch” accessibility features. When accessibility features are enabled and the user inputs text on Swype, it will be spoken back to the user. “Explore by Touch” lets users navigate through the keyboard and hear each key spoken aloud. Swype also lets accessibility users make selections from the word choice list via a new “Scrub” gesture. Navigating up and outside the keyboard will activate this gesture. Once activated, the keyboard will highlight and announce the first word in the word choice list. A clockwise circular motion selects the next word while a counter-clockwise circular motion selects the previous word.
- Bilingual Support: Swype now features intuitive bilingual support for alphabetic languages that allows users to quickly and easily enter text in two selected languages, and words suggested by Swype will automatically adjust to the bilingual user’s language preference. Swype’s bilingual keyboard capabilities support over 1,000 language combinations, including standards like English-Spanish, French-Spanish, Polish-Czech, Portuguese-Swedish, and many more.
- Personalize Your Keyboard: People can also enjoy customizable keyboards that let users decide how big, small, wide or tall they would like their Swype keyboard to be. For instance, people can choose split and mini left/right keyboards for phablets, or landscape mini left/right keyboards for smaller devices. And people can choose their keyboard layout, whether its QWERTY, QWERTZ or AZERTY depending on the language they speak.
Swype is available on the Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore for $3.99.
I have been using this new version for the last couple of days and find it to be very functional, responsive, and accurate. I personally don't need all the accessibility features, but the continuous dictation is quite handy for text entry.