If you happen to be a palm wine tapper, rejoice not. This post is not talking about your kind of tapping! This post focuses on text entry on non QWERTY (touchscreen) keyboards on mobile phones. It would appear that the kingdom belongs to the tappers, while the swiper may be doing ‘irreparable’ damage to their fingertips. More on this later.
The guy who invented T9 text input as a method of text entry (on physical QWERTY Keyboards) is the same mind that invented swiping (originally on Swype). At that time, T9 input was revolutionary, as was swiping on glass, when it first debuted. Both inventions took the pain out of communicating our thoughts through our fingers via tiny screens (compared to the full fledged keyboards of the desktop world). Since the time swiping on glass was invented, the algorithms for predicting what you mean to say, when dragging your fingers from one letter to the other, to compile words, have been honed to razor edge sharpness. Some of the class leaders are Swype, Kii Keyboard , Google keyboard (Android) , Word flow (WindowsPhone)
With most modern smartphones and tablets being touchscreen-based, interacting with glass is the way to input our words (in addition to voice) . And continual effort is being made to make the process as efficient as possible by even incorporating look-ahead psychic predictions (in addition to text correction).
We have the option of swiping or tapping,and most of the leading keyboard applications provide both text entry methods. Using Fleksy, a keyboard app on the Android platform, Marcel Fernandes broke the old record and carved himself a place in history in the Guinness Book of World Records, using tapping, not swiping.
Fernandes, a 16-year-old from Brazil, tapped out a 25-word paragraph in 18.19 seconds on April 25, 2014. The previous world record was set in January by Gaurav Sharma, a 15-year-old from Seattle. Sharma composed the same paragraph in 18.44 seconds, via swiping, using WordFlow keyboard on the Windowsphone platform, (the original swiping record on a mobile Phone was made on Swype, on android, some time back).
That feat permanently puts to rest the pundits’ claim that swiping is a more efficient way (than tapping) to input text on glass.
Personally, I think tapping is superior to swiping as a means of input, and I would rather tap whenever practicable. Here below are some pros and con of both methods.
Despite efforts continually being made to fine tune the predictive algorithms when swiping, the right words sometimes don’t get predicted. This could be due to inaccurate swiping, or the fact that several words often follow the same swiping path. The implication is that you can’t swipe without having to check that each word, presented as default, is what you actually want.
Conversely, you can get so proficient with tapping on glass with a particular keyboard application that you do not have to check your words at all. I hasten to add that this is for conventional, normal words, or words you have saved in your personal dictionary.
An advantage of swiping is that words never ever get spelled incorrectly. It is just that wrong words may be selected inadvertently, sometimes leading to hilarious results. [You may want to Google ‘damn you autocorrect’ for some truly hilarious text correction gaffes.]
When you have just one hand free (maybe you need to quickly push out a short sms, while holding a briefcase) , swiping may be a more efficient and speedy method )
The last point against swiping is when you have tiny scratches on your screen. Dragging your finger tips incessantly across the glass in such a situation may be unwise, as there would be wear and tear. Calluses may also develop over time.
Clearly, when tapping, it would take a far longer time for your fingertips to start feeling sore than when you continuously drag your fingers across a sheet of imperfect glass (via swiping).
Conclusively, while there are situations when swiping has its merits, on a general basis, I would imagine that tapping is far more efficient, less error prone and more speedy.
The Fleksy world record somewhat lends credence to that assertion.
(Note: the whole of this post was entirely typed [tapped] on a touchscreen, using SwiftKey for Android, with very little error correction, or effort. It is doubtful if this could have been achieved with swiping without lots of going back to correct wrongly selected words)
What’s your take? Would you rather tap. Or, would you rather swipe? Would a keyboard without swiping facility sink your boat?
Being an Android Evangelist, I would recommend the following absolutely awesome tapping keyboard applications. They are all available, (most free, or having a free version ) on the Google Play Store
Kii Keyboard (has been removed from GPlay)
Multilingual ‘O’ Keyboard
I personally think SwiftKey and magic keyboard are the best in tapping