Androids, Swype and Qwertys

I've spent about two weeks now with my first Android phone, the HTC MyTouch Slide. I chose this over all other Androids because of it's nice full QWERTY keyboard, good looks, and good price. On the subject of keyboards though, is a physical qwerty still necessary with the growing screen sizes and the invent of Swype?

The MyTouch Slide comes pre-loaded with Swype as the default virtual keyboard. If you haven't seen how this works yet, watch the video below:

Swype is pretty easy to get a hold of, and it's powers of prediction are pretty amazing, even when you move your finger all over the place in an odd way and don't even touch all the letters. Also, it's actually fun and satisfying to use, and you still have the ability to touch type every letter one-by-one if you want. Is it faster than a real qwerty? Probably not, but on a 4" screen plus, it's good enough for most SMS/email needs.

Swype is almost good enough to choose a phone without a keyboard for thinner size and less moving parts. However, a real keyboard is good for more than just typing - and that's games.

Some games work great with touch-only input, such as Air Control or Jewels, but more traditional games like platformers, racing, etc, are infinitely easier to play with real buttons. While Android doesn't have as many games as the iPhone (yet), it does have some good ones like Radiant. Also, you can download Gameboy/SuperNintendo/Genesis emulators from the market place which gives you access to thousands and thousands of classic games that were designed for a controller. Now you can either play these with an on-screen virtual controller overlay, and cover half the screen with your hands, or you can assign the various buttons to keys on your physical keyboard. This makes playing classic games like Sonic, Mario, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter as good as on the original consoles!

So if you have any interest in playing games on your next Android, consider the benefits of real buttons.

I should also add that I find it much easier to type anything more complex than regular English on the real keyboard. Especially so for login names, passwords, and URLs. I use Swype only for short messages or to impress iPhone sheep.


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