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Software Android IOS Operating Systems Technology

The Swype Smartphone Keyboard Is Dead 95

XDA Developers is reporting that one of the pioneers in swipe-gestures in mobile keyboard apps, Swype, is dead. Swype's owner, Nuance Communications, has confirmed that they are discontinuing Swype for Android and iOS. From the report: In a post made on Reddit earlier today, a user claims that they reached out to Nuance support with an issue and received the following message: "However, we are sad to announce that Swype+Dragon for Android has faced end of development. Here is a statement from Swype Product Team: 'Nuance will no longer be updating the Swype+Dragon keyboard for Android. We're sorry to leave the direct-to-consumer keyboard business, but this change is necessary to allow us to concentrate on developing our AI solutions for sale directly to businesses.' We hope you enjoyed using Swype, we sure enjoyed working with the Swype community."

Curious, we went looking online and discovered a Zendesk article from Nuance that announced the iOS version of the app would be discontinued as well. In order to confirm this, we also reached out to Nuance PR and they confirmed that development of Swype+Dragon for Android has indeed been discontinued.
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The Swype Smartphone Keyboard Is Dead

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Swiftkey has a better keyboard anyways.

    • Swiftkey has better swiping recognition, but Swype has those awesome clipboard shortcuts. Basically ^A, ^C, ^X, ^V for select all, copy, cut, and paste. Have you ever been typing and get a text and need to respond to it before continuing what you're doing? A quit ^A, ^X, type your new text, send, then ^V to paste the old text and send. It's amazingly convenient. Trying to use clipboard functions without that is frustrating.

      • This was a while ago, but I couldn't use Swiftkey because it left trailing spaces after writing, and that irked my OCD. I'm not sure if they ever fixed that.
        • I remember that behaviour. It irked me too since it meant if it got the word wrong that you had to manually cursor back or tap on the wrong word before you could select a different one. I just checked and it's different now. Normally the cursor is left directly after the last word you type. It does leave a space, interestingly, if you correct a word, when it erases and rewrites the word it then leaves a space. IF you have to correct the final word in a sentence then you'll need to backspace to put in a

    • I have switched from Swiftkey to Swype because Swiftkey was slow even on a reasonably modern hardware (Xperia Z5) and had worse multilanguage support.

      • Did you switch to anything good? I love Swiftkey, but I hate the fact that I'm now using Microsoft software on my phone. I want to jump ship before they start making changes in their interest. My friend recommended the Google gboard, but that almost seems like swapping one evil for another. Is there a Freer Android keyboard that has good predictions like Swiftkey?

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @05:40PM (#56159696) Homepage Journal

    Proprietary software is not sustainable, because it's shut down for simple reasons like "it doesn't fit our business direction any longer" or "it's not making money" that would be irrelevant to an Open Source project.

    Unfortunately it could be difficult to persuade Nuance to Open Source this, as they're concerned with holding their intellectual property close and probably would not want to take the expense to separate out Dragon and anything else they want to keep. And they probably don't want to have their patent claims practiced in Open Source.

    The bottom line here is that functions not unlike their swiping keyboard are built into other keyboards, including Google's, and there is Open Source speech recognition now, so maybe nobody needs this. But if enough people do, it would make a good Open Source project.

    • I was wondering if the giveaway from their statement is "We're sorry to leave the direct-to-consumer keyboard business". I'm wondering if that means they're going to be licensing the technology to either OS developers or other keyboard producers. I'm not sure how that business model would work but your conclusion stands nonetheless, we likely won't see the technology being open sourced.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm wondering if that means they're going to be licensing the technology to either OS developers or other keyboard producers.

        Stop wondering and just keep reading: "this change is necessary to allow us to concentrate on developing our AI solutions for sale directly to businesses." (Emphasis mine)

        tl;dr: Yes, that's exactly what they're doing.

      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

        They always have done this. The produce is called XT9. They've been in that business for 15ish years.

    • One of my favorite graphics editors (Fireworks) was discontinued a few years ago. Open-source is something I'm looking for in my next editor so I don't have to worry about it being discontinued.
      • One of my favorite graphics editors (Fireworks) was discontinued a few years ago. Open-source is something I'm looking for in my next editor so I don't have to worry about it being discontinued.

        ...or abandoned?

        Honestly, what is the percentage of F/OSS Projects that simply die on the vine? It feels like it's pretty high.

        • It's evolution when an Open Source project dies. That is how we filter the good ones from the ones nobody else wants to keep maintaining. But the source code is still there for anyone who wants to continue with it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Simply having the source code available is not the same as a project being sustainable. Sustainability is a factor of usage, leadership, code quality, continued development, and the ability to potentially continue a project after original developers have abandoned it. Open source may simplify some of the preceding elements, but it's no guarantee of sustainability.

    • Proprietary software is not sustainable, because it's shut down for simple reasons like "it doesn't fit our business direction any longer" or "it's not making money" that would be irrelevant to an Open Source project.

      You're right. Open Source Projects just get abandoned.

      And Bruce, I don't know why I often find myself on the opposite side of an issue with you; I actually am in awe of your talent, knowledge and persistence-of-vision...

      But that doesn't stop me from poking the bear now and again! Pay it no mind, please!

      • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @07:24PM (#56160535) Homepage Journal
        You can take up an Open Source project that's been abandoned. You can even cut and paste from the useful stuff. You can't get at a proprietary one that's locked up, or more likely bitrotted.
      • You're right. Open Source Projects just get abandoned.

        Out of curiosity, are there any open source projects that immediately come to mind as having been abandoned despite being an invaluable tool?

        • You're right. Open Source Projects just get abandoned.

          Out of curiosity, are there any open source projects that immediately come to mind as having been abandoned despite being an invaluable tool?

          No. Because I immediately forgot about them, once I found they had been abandoned.

          That isn't nearly as snarky as it sounds. What I mean is, I would read about some wonderful Open Source Project that was of interest, and then, when I went to github or wherever to see if there was a download, or if there was recent activity (within the past year or so), all I would find are a bunch of "open" bug reports, some years old, and the last "commit" or update being so far back there was simply no hope for someone not

          • Sorry. Don't keep a log. Do you?

            Nope. That's why I was asking the question. Like you, I've come across plenty of now un-remembered abandoned open source projects that looked like they would be pretty cool, but most of them appeared to have been abandoned before they were "finished" i.e. they never got the the point of being widely used.

            And yes, as an embedded developer myself I have that same trouble with large modern applications. I once tried to download and build a large project from source just for the sake of curiosity. 4 hours l

            • Sorry. Don't keep a log. Do you?

              Nope. That's why I was asking the question. Like you, I've come across plenty of now un-remembered abandoned open source projects that looked like they would be pretty cool, but most of them appeared to have been abandoned before they were "finished" i.e. they never got the the point of being widely used.

              And yes, as an embedded developer myself I have that same trouble with large modern applications. I once tried to download and build a large project from source just for the sake of curiosity. 4 hours later I was still running into weird dependency issues and getting compile errors that weren't making any sense.

              Yup! I feel ya on both points!!!

              It's like C++. I probably shouldn't admit this on Slashdot, but I have a mental-block against learning that language. I know about 20 different Assembly Languages from 6502 to ARMv7 TDMI, and have written probably a hundred thousand lines or so in Assembly, all told, and can write in C quite fluently, and even FORTH to some extent; but EVERY time I pick up my C++ book, I get a few chapters into it and just want to SCREAM "Are we EVER going to get to "Hello, World?!?!?" It's j

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      Which is why if I am going to invest serious time in learning an application I use an OSS version even if it is more clunky, at least you know your investment in time won't be made worthless.

      I used this swype on my phone - it was ok. Now I know it won't be on my next phone. What a crappy consumer society we have become.

    • by Jarwulf ( 530523 )
      Because we all know Joe Schlomoe the grocery store assistant manager likes nothing more than to fire up emacs and start uploading commits of his favorite discontinued database program. Look I'm not against a little necessary elbow grease but this extreme diy by default attitude permeates the entire linux ecosystem from support to OS and they wonder why linux can't get a leg in anywhere without a big corporation slapping a fat layer of frosting on it.
  • by Excelcia ( 906188 ) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @05:41PM (#56159707) Homepage Journal

    Maybe they couldn't find an under-the-table market for all the tracking data they had. Swype is notorious for activating your GPS and calling home with it, ostensibly to determine if it should load "regional words" into the dictionary, however the frequency it did it was staggeringly more often than required for the stated reason. It was obvious they were doing something with that data, because they switched from a pay-for-the-app to a free app where you just paid for the keyboard skins. No one is shelling out real money for a keyboard skin, so it's pretty clear their funding was from elsewhere.

    • The government stopped allowing people to use personal devices on classified military bases any longer, after they saw the maps those things were generating. And an entire market dried up!

      • The government stopped allowing people to use personal devices on classified military bases any longer, after they saw the maps those things were generating. And an entire market dried up!

        Hmmm. That WAS just a couple of months ago, wasn't it?

        Coincidence?

    • Maybe they couldn't find an under-the-table market for all the tracking data they had. Swype is notorious for activating your GPS and calling home with it, ostensibly to determine if it should load "regional words" into the dictionary, however the frequency it did it was staggeringly more often than required for the stated reason. It was obvious they were doing something with that data, because they switched from a pay-for-the-app to a free app where you just paid for the keyboard skins. No one is shelling out real money for a keyboard skin, so it's pretty clear their funding was from elsewhere.

      I don't know about Android; but on iOS it would have to ASK first. And I don't know about anyone else; but a KEYBOARD APP that asks to use "Location Services" (what it is called on iOS) would get UNINSTALLED, PRONTO!!!

      Maybe it's Good Riddance, afterall...

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        a KEYBOARD APP that asks to use "Location Services" (what it is called on iOS) would get UNINSTALLED, PRONTO!!!

        Are you trying to imply that a keyboard that automatically adds the correct spelling of nearby landmarks to its dictionary is inferior to one without this feature? Or should the keyboard instead require each user to manually choose the center of the landmark search area on a map?

        • a KEYBOARD APP that asks to use "Location Services" (what it is called on iOS) would get UNINSTALLED, PRONTO!!!

          Are you trying to imply that a keyboard that automatically adds the correct spelling of nearby landmarks to its dictionary is inferior to one without this feature? Or should the keyboard instead require each user to manually choose the center of the landmark search area on a map?

          Nice try.

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            To which option did you intend "Nice try." to refer?

            A. No support for spelling of nearby landmarks
            B. Spelling of nearby landmarks only for a location chosen by the user using a map control
            C. Other (fill in the blank)

            • C. Why the fuck do I even need or want that functionality in a keyboard
              • by tepples ( 727027 )

                So that autocorrect doesn't mangle the messages that you send to someone about where you are.

                • Or I could just.. you know... add the word to the dictionary myself the first time it tries to mangle it. Problem solved and I didn't even have to share my location info with a company trying to harvest my data.
                  • by tepples ( 727027 )

                    Or I could just.. you know... add the word to the dictionary myself the first time it tries to mangle it.

                    That works if and only if two things are true: 1. you notice that autocorrect has mangled a given place name, and 2. you are certain of the correct spelling of each place name that you mention. Will both of these be true for the majority of users other than dpidcoe?

                    • That works if and only if two things are true: 1. you notice that autocorrect has mangled a given place name, and 2. you are certain of the correct spelling of each place name that you mention. Will both of these be true for the majority of users other than dpidcoe?

                      To answer that, I'll just quote myself from two posts ago and add some emphasis:

                      C. Why the fuck do I even need or want that functionality in a keyboard

                      Thanks for playing.

              • by tepples ( 727027 )

                You do not. The majority do.

                • Well gosh, how did they ever cope with sending texts about landmarks they were visiting before GPS and keyboard apps intent on collecting their data to sell to 3rd parties?
                  • by tepples ( 727027 )

                    I presume that "before GPS and keyboard apps intent on collecting their data to sell to 3rd parties," it was more socially acceptable for users of SMS to misspell things, which allowed them to set autocorrect to a less aggressive level.

            • C. Nice try to attempt to obsfucate the REAL reason that Swype (or any keyboard) would need "Location Services"; to wit: To transmit the User's LOCATION back to some unwanted server for datamining purposes.

              But you already knew that...

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @05:46PM (#56159737)

    Since I paid for Swype years many years ago but I stopped using it over a year ago as GBoard is now a better keyboard.

    It started to get annoying since they ashed Dragon with it. I don't want to talk to my phone. I don't want my phone to record sound when I accidentally touch a button I can't remove and send it to their servers. They made it impossible to get rid of the feature and it ended up wasting space on the keyboard.

    • I agree about Dragon. But if I wanted to talk to my phone, I'd use the built-in (Google) implementation. Samsung probably has one too. If I wanted a third one, I surely wouldn't want it to be built-in to my keyboard.

      I also stopped using swype because it has gone downwards. Not only because of Dragon, but because its auto correct got worse with time.

  • Is it just me that's going wtf!?
  • I used Swype for years (IIRC Samsung licensed it for the Galaxy S/Vibrant), but switched over to Swiftkey years ago primarily due to better autocompletion options.

    I was also annoyed when they switched over to Dragon, though these days I might be more sad that for voice recognition on Android your choices now seem to be down to A) Google and B) Google.
  • Microsoft came out with Word Flow. It has a couple of minor issues, but man, I loved Word Flow. I hate that I can't install it on my new phone because Microsoft decided to kill it.

    All these 3rd party keyboards... I wonder which one will die off next.

  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @07:11PM (#56160443) Journal

    People ditched it because it slowly got worse and worse.

    The first few revisions seemed to identify my swipes pretty well, then they slowly got worse

    Also one of the absolute KEY features (tricks?) is to delete suggestions you'll never use. I slowly but surely remove idiotic suggestions for words I never used, making it more and more accurate.
    Then, every couple of updates, somehow the dictionary would be updated and all my damn deletions would be re added.
    THAT was what finally got me off it. If I could just have a swype style keyboard which remembered my poor vocabulary, it would be vastly more accurate.

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      Sure wish gboard would let me remove words from the dictionary. There is a way to remove suggestions from the list of alternate words, but if the word that it chose is a word I want to remove I can't see any way to do it. I'd sure like to know how, if there's a way!

      • You could not have said it better, that's what I switched to and it pissed me off, no end.

      • by crywolf ( 445243 )

        Long hold on the suggested word doesn't offer you an option to remove it?

        • by caseih ( 160668 )

          A week late here, but no you didn't quite understand what I was getting at. Sure you can remove suggestions like you say, but not if the word that you want to remove was the word it chose. That's because the word it chose is not listed in the list of 3 suggestions. It's placed in the actual input field. And I have no idea how to remove that one from the suggestions.

      • You should install Swype! It's no longer being updated, so it won't re-add your deletions, and contrary to what the title says, it's still available in the play store.
  • Now I've got to go find some other swype-clone. I tried several way back when, and Swype was clearly superior. The others were just ... horrible.

    I hope at least one of them has improved since then.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @08:52PM (#56161065)

    Swype was revolutionary. ... And then it became a standard feature of Google's own keyboard. What once was the first app to install on Android, very quickly became a completely pointless one. I'm not surprised. Gboard is a far better keyboard, especially if you have to type multiple languages.

  • Did they just build a keyboard to mine text data to build an AI? If so, that's amazing.

    • Don't give them that much foresight.

      Swype started out pretty early - its original release was for Windows Mobile 6.5. Their original business model was to charge OEMs to add it to the stock firmware as an option; prior to Google and Samsung shipping with swipe-based keyboards, handsets shipped with them or didn't; it wasn't available in the Android Market and only later was released as a public beta. Nuance later bought them out and added Dragon Dictation and such.

      That being said, their use of telemetry is

  • Swyper, no more swyping!
    Oh Jesus, watched way too much Dora with my kids ðY

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