Apr 19 AT 11:40 PM Guest Blogger 20 Comments

SlideIt: Typing thanks to the power of magic.

slideit-post-image

Samsung recently started up an ad campaign for their “Omnia II with Swype technology” which shows a man beating the world record for texting on a mobile phone. Well, I saw this and wanted to see if I had what it took to beat the world record and get my lifetime supply of Guinness (that is the prize, right?) from the fine folks at the Guinness Book of World Records. Unfortunately, the Swype beta on Android is closed and isn’t accepting any more people at this time. Thankfully, I wasn’t completely out of luck. A very similar program was already available on the app store named SlideIt and it seems to work just as good.

The idea of sliding a finger over a touchscreen keyboard in order to input text is a hard one to grasp without actually trying it. It seems like such a chaotic and messy way to type, but it isn’t. Thanks to the power of magic (or incredibly adept software) waving your finger like a wand almost always results in the correct word appearing on the screen. When the word you intended doesn’t appear on the screen, either due to incorrect input or a more popular word existing on that same slide-route, a list of other guesses appears and chances are the intended word can be tapped and will wholly replace the incorrect word. I hated the touchscreen keyboard on the MyTouch 3G before SlideIt, but now I am actually excited to type out messages on my phone.

However, SlideIt is not without a huge setback for a certain group of people. Poor spellers. I am a fairly good speller, but I could immediately see a problem when words I struggle with would result in a “???” from the best-guess list. SlideIt handles this in two ways. First, you can still tap each letter just as you do with any touchscreen keyboard. Second, there are endless shortcuts and the user can set up as many shortcuts as they like.

For example, slide over the letters “AFK” and the word “ask” will pop up, but highlighted in green and in all caps will be “AFK.” If you tap “AFK” the words “Away From Keyboard” will pop up. Another great feature is the ability to add proper names and specialized words to SlideIt’s dictionary by simply tapping it in and hitting a plus sign that appears to the left of the best-guess list.

My biggest issue came with typing in passwords. I’m not sure I want to add my passwords to the dictionary list, but I’m not sure I can since they may or may not contain special characters. For example, let’s say my password is “h$7FF3#.” SlideIt would not allow me to start the password with a lowercase letter. I would have to start it by typing “H” and then “h” and scrolling back to delete the uppercase “H.” It also wanted to create a space after almost every character. All of this on top of the fact that getting between the letters and the symbols requires switching menus. You can try a neat “Graffiti mode” which allows you to type in special characters by drawing them, but this is far from perfect and still suffers from a lot of the same issues.

The Good

  • Typing has never been faster or easier on a touchscreen
  • Inputting text is fun and feels futuristic
  • Great shortcut and add-to-dictionary options

The Bad

  • Passwords can be a pain
  • Hope you are a good speller

Final Verdict

Getting over some of the quirks of typing in passwords is totally worth it. There is a demo version and if you are scared that you may not be a good enough speller, then give it a try. Otherwise, I never see myself returning to any other way of inputing text on a touchscreen. The full version is approximately $8.00.

Note: This review was submitted by Jeff Grubb as part of our app review contest.

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