File under tools for writers: Swype has come out with a gesture-based text input for touchscreen devices. Words are written by tracing consecutive letters on the keyboard without lifting your finger. Someone has even used it to break the Guiness World Record for fastest texting. When I tried it on my friend’s Android mobile, it didn’t simply predict words appropriate for business exchange (e.g. “See you at the meeting”) but was 100% accurate with more poetic text (I tried “Curling lip exchange”). You have to see it to believe it:
Reminds me of Picasso’s drawings with light:
How will what we write change when we can record words as fast as we can think them? Will we more accurately capture a flash of inspiration? Unlike putting pen to paper, when typing on a keyboard (whether typewriter or laptop) the physical motion of writing “a” is virtually the same as for any other letter. Could interfaces like Swype bring us a more intimate relationship with the letters we write? Do we even care?
My one criticism is that Swype should have gone even further–why stick with the QWERTY keyboard layout? Why not have custom keyboards for individual users (recognizable by fingerprint)? Since Swype can theoretically work on any touchscreen of any size, not just the ones on tiny mobile devices, we should expect such interfaces to become more common. The speed and motion of recording ideas in words is changing, and I hope these changes will also bring some interesting (and even unintended) effects on the literary quality of what we write.