Swype Slide-type Android OSK Beta Open to All

Run, don't walk, if you want to text faster. On Wednesday, Swype released its slide keyboard to open beta. Until this point, the software keyboard, which allows users to slide from key to key to "draw" a word, was limited to a closed beta, or to a few WM devices, such as the Samsung Omnia 2 and the HTC HD2. It's also pre-loaded on a few Android devices like the Cliq XT.

The beta page is here. You'll have to sign up, and be given a link via email to download the Swype beta. Nope, the beta form of the app is not in the Android Market, as Swype apparently wants to keep better control on the beta. Additionally, they will leave the beta open only for a few days (which is why you should run, not walk to the site).

It should be noted that since the APK file does not come from the Android Market, you'll have to change a setting in the Android OS to allow non-market builds to be installed. That will work unless you use an AT&T Backflip; AT&T has seen fit to shut down those types of installs in a sort of App Store like decision; it has reportedly done the same with the upcoming Aria, and these are the only Android devices to sport such a restriction.

Swype makes text entry so much easier than using a standard on-screen keyboard. Unfortunately for iPhone fans, it can't work well on that platform? Why, you might ask? Android allows the on-screen keyboard on the device to be replaced, system-wide. iOS, due to its closed nature, does not.

There are other Swype-type keyboards in the Android, such as SlideIT and Shapewriter. Shapewriter exists on iOS as well, in a crippled form (due to the above). We've tried them all, and Swype beats them all.

This app, as things stand, will never exist on iOS4, integrated into the platform, unless they do it themselves (or buy Swype). This gives Android a clear advantage over iOS, particularly with texters who want to text as quickly as possible. You hear us Google? Buy the company before Apple does, and locks you out.

While still in beta, we'd love it if Swype were released to the Android Market, and we'd even pay for it. There are some rather non-intuitive shortcuts to the usage of Swype, so make sure you visit this page if you want to try it.

Meanwhile, watch a few video demos. First watch Swype vs. an iPhone:

Watch a video on "How to Swype."