Nuance has released an update to its Swype keyboard software for mobile devices that adds, among other things, voice input and adaptive learning about the user’s speech, preferences and their handwriting.
Nuance acquired Swype in October of last year for $102.5 million, a healthy sum of money for a start-up. It reunites teams that previously worked together. In 2007, Nuance bought Tegic from AOL for $265 million, picking up a popular bit of predictive-text software called T9. Tegic’s founder, Cliff Kushler, would go on to found Swype.
Predictive-text software allows mobile phones with traditional keypads to predict which words users are composing and then offering a solution so the person can spell out a long word with just a few taps. The Swype keyboard offers this and three other types of input: predictive typing, speak their words, or write words on the screen with a finger.
This new version of Swype also includes adaptive capabilities that learn the users’ preferences over time, so it becomes more personalized every time they use the keyboard.
“People use their keyboards every day in every way — so input needs to be fast and simple,” said Michael Thompson, executive vice president and general manager for Nuance Mobile. “The new Swype living, learning keyboard ushers in a new era of input, where the keyboard adapts to the users’ unique way of communicating every time they swype, speak, tap or write.”
Auto-correct errors on the iPhone are so notorious that there is an entire blog full of embarrassing texts called Damn You AutoCorrect (questionable language warning), but Swype hopes to fix this problem by looking at the context of other words already typed to make a more educated guess as to what word you meant to type.
This update also adds Nuance’s Dragon Dictate speech recognition technology to Swype for the first time, so users can speak their words instead of typing. There have been rumors that Siri is actually based on Dragon Dictate, which neither side will confirm.
Swype comes with a personal dictionary that adds new words the user enters, and it can add them from speech, text, e-mails, texts and posts. These updates are then mapped into Swype’s unified language model, so people can immediately speak or write that same word no matter how unique or specialized. The Swype keyboard supports up to 55 languages.
Nuance says 20 hardware partners have made Swype available on their devices, all of them Android, giving it a presence on more than 200 million units in the market. Swype is only available via OEMs for Android devices, so it’s not going to be found on Google Play, but you can download the beta from the Swype’s website and sideload it onto your phone.