[LINK] Touchscreen keyboards

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun May 2 17:12:18 AEST 2010

Spreading: Swype's Touchscreen Keyboard Technology

Bloomberg Business Week,  May 3, 2010, by Ian King 

Millions of smartphones (not Apple's) may soon feature software that lets 
consumers type by tracing letters with their fingers on a screen 

Touchscreen software maker Swype says its technology will be speeding the 
way consumers type, on about 10 million smartphones, by the end of this 

Each of the U.S.'s four mobile-phone service providers will offer phones 
using Swype by this summer, says Chief Executive Officer Mike McSherry in 
an interview. 

The company's software will also make its debut on handsets in Asia, 
Europe, and South America, he says. "We want to be the default keyboard 
for every screen," he says. "We've got a number of major deployments 
coming up." 

Swype's software is currently used on six smartphone models and will be 
added to about 14 additional models later this year.

While 10 million devices is a tiny fraction of the more than one billion 
mobile phones sold each year, Seattle-based Swype has a track record and 
is backed by Nokia (NOK) and Samsung Electronics. 

Swype's technology was invented by Cliff Kushler, who created the T9 
predictive text-entry system that has been used on 4 billion phones. Like 
T9, the Swype software is the result of research into technology designed 
to help people with disabilities.

Swype speeds up the process of typing on a touchscreen device by letting 
users swipe their fingers across virtual letters. Software recognizes 
words that users want, adding spaces and punctuation. 

The system can be learned in minutes and doubles the speed of text entry, 
according to McSherry. 

Swype works as an add-on to a touchscreen keyboard and doesn't interfere 
with users who wish to continue typing in the traditional manner.

The 27-person company is also in talks with makers of tablet computers 
and electronic book readers to adapt its technology for bigger devices, 
says McSherry says, whose career includes a stint at Microsoft (MSFT). 

Using Swype adds "tens of cents" to the cost of a device and licensees 
get a discount for higher volume, he says.

"It's a technology that's going to blossom," says Bill Ho, an analyst at 
industry consultant Current Analysis. "It's a lot faster than me hunting 
and pecking."

The software first appeared on Samsung's Omnia II in December and has 
been used on other phones made by Motorola (MOT) and HTC.

While Swype is now being used by—or is in talks with—companies that make 
more than 70 percent of the world's mobile phones, the technology may not 
soon appear on Apple (AAPL) devices. 

Swype was approached by Apple and asked to demonstrate its technology, 
McSherry says, explaining that Apple was impressed with his product but 
later expressed "disappointment" when he said Swype was licensing it to 
other phone makers.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment.

McSherry says there's no full version of Swype's software that works on 
Apple products, although a Swype engineer in his spare time has produced 
one that runs on Apple's iPad tablet computer. "It's helped us in a lot 
of our other carrier and [phonemaker] conversations that we don't have 
Apple as a partner right now," he says.

— King is a reporter for Bloomberg News in San Francisco


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