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App of the week – Swype

Platform: Android Price: Free Android users! Stop whatever you're doing (probably telling all your mates that the Droid X is *way* better than the i

Platform: Android

Price: Free

Android users! Stop whatever you’re doing (probably telling all your mates that the Droid X is *way* better than the iPhone 4) and head over to http://beta.swype.com. The world’s fastest texting system is now available in a limited release beta that is simply a must-have.

After a simple download and install (ignore the dire warnings that Swype will nick your passwords, credit card numbers and love notes), you simply tap any text field to bring up the Swype virtual keyboard.

Now instead of pecking out each letter individually, just swipe (geddit?!?) your finger around the keyboard to form a word. A blue trace follows your finger as it zips around the screen, then release. Voila! Your word magically appears, Swype automatically adds a space, and you’re ready to write on.

The learning curve is zero. With my very first texts and emails, I had no spelling mistakes, no weird capitalisations and no annoying backspacing moments. There a few things to get used to, though: double letters require a pause that takes practice, and words that aren’t in the dictionary kick you back to tapping them in individually (although it’s dead easy to add them to its word bank).

If the Swype engine isn’t certain what you typed, you’ll get a little selection box popping up. This automatically chooses the most likely word after a short interval.

In the Settings menu, you can tweak Swype’s smart systems, favouring speed over accuracy, adjusting the blue trace line and how long it waits to auto-complete words. But even out of the box, this is a revolutionary app that accelerates typing as much – or even more – than the first predictive text systems.

And bear in mind Swype worked this smoothly in pretty much a worst-case scenario: the sluggish resistive display on an aging LG InTouch Max. On a new capacitive screen, you’ll be gliding through mails, chats and texts while iPhone users are still congratulating themselves on having a single inbox.

And with Apple’s control fetish over basic functionality apps, there’s little chance of Swype finding its way to the iPhone 4 or iPad anytime soon. Pixels or practicality – the choice is yours.