Typing with a swipe? Sounds intimidating, I knowâ€”and yes, it certainly takes some getting used-to. But if you give swiping your Android or iOS keyboard a serious try, thereâ€™s a good chance youâ€™ll never go back to tapping.Android users have been able to swipe to type for a few years now. Thanks to iOSâ€™s (relatively) new support for third-party keyboards, iPhone and iPad users can finally type with a swipe, too.
Setting up a swipe-to-type (or â€śgestureâ€ť) keypad on your handset takes only a few minutes. Getting the hang of typing with a swipe takes somewhat longer, no question about it.
But once youâ€™re comfortable with swiping from one letter key to the next, I think youâ€™ll find that composing text messages, email, and just about any other document on your touchscreen handset feels 10 times easierâ€”and depending how good you get, maybe even 10 times faster.
Read on for 5 gotta-know ways to get started with gesture typing, starting with…
Try loops instead of zigzags
Once youâ€™ve installed a gesture-friendly keypad on your Android or iOS and youâ€™ve started swiping the keys, your first inclination may be to zig and zag from one key to another. Thatâ€™ll work, but all the stops and starts will slow you down, and you might begin to wonder if swiping is actually saving you time versus plain-old tapping.
Instead of zigzagging back and forth between keys, try tracing your words with smooth, looping gestures. When Iâ€™ve got a good gesture-typing rhythm going, my fingertip will start doing graceful figure eights around the keyboard, rarely pausing as it glides from key to key.
If youâ€™re a novice gesture typist, donâ€™t be surprised if your muscle memory fails you when it comes to swiping your first words. Indeed, thatâ€™s why beginning swipe-to-typers often resort to zigs and zags, with long pauses as they search the keypad for the next key.
Donâ€™t panic. With practice, your fingertips will remember the standard QWERTY layout (or DVORAK, or your layout of choice), and youâ€™ll again be zipping from one key to another without having to think about it. Just hang in there.
Donâ€™t hit the space bar between words
Hereâ€™s another easy mistake that beginning gesture typists commit: stopping between words to tap the spacebar. Donâ€™t do it.
Instead, as soon as youâ€™ve traced a word and lifted your fingertip from the screen, go ahead and starting swiping the next word. Any gesture keypad worth its salt will automatically add a space between the words youâ€™ve typed, saving you the trouble of an extra tap.
Indeed, the only time you should be touching the spacebar should be when youâ€™re double-tapping it for a period.
Tap a wrong word to change it
Even when you’re swiping and looping with ease, you may occasionally look back and find an auto-corrected word thatâ€™s woefully out of context. Luckily, thereâ€™s no need to hit the backspace button and retrace your words.
Instead, just tap the wrong word and tap one of the suggested words displayed along the top of the keyboard. When you do, the word you picked will smoothly take the place of the wrong word.
Donâ€™t see the word you want in the suggestions displayed along the top of the keypad? If not, just double-tap the word to select it, then swipe in a new word.
Disable all your other keyboards [iOS only]
Count me among the many who were thrilled when Apple finally followed Googleâ€™s lead and allowed users to install third-party keyboards on their iPhones and iPads. Specifically, I was champing at the bit to try gesture typingâ€”at last!â€”on my iOS devices.
Unfortunately, iOSâ€™s implementation of third-party keyboards is less than perfect. One of the downsides, strangely enough, is that itâ€™s a bit too easy to switch from one keyboard another. All you have to do is tap the little globe key thatâ€™s sitting (typically) in the bottom-left corner of the keypadâ€”and boy, if I had a dollar for every time I hit that key by accident…
Also, iOS has a nasty habit of forgetting which keyboard you last selected. Even if, for example, you were using Swype while replying to some Mail messages, thereâ€™s a decent chance that the standard iOS keypad will appear the next time you need to type. Ugh.
The solution, Iâ€™ve found, is to disable all your keyboardsâ€”including the iOS keypadâ€”save for the one you want to use.
As youâ€™re doing so, it might look like youâ€™re deleting your old keyboards rather than merely disabling them, but rest assured: all your installed third-party keypads are safe until you manually delete their apps. And relax, you canâ€™t delete the main iOS keypad, no matter how hard you try.
Hereâ€™s what you do: Tap Settings > General > Keyboards, tap Keyboards again, tap theEdit button in the top corner of the screen, then go through and delete (by tapping one of the red circles followed by the Delete button) every keyboard except the one you want to use, including the main iOS keypad.
If you ever have a change of heart, just go back to the Keyboards screen, tap Add New Keyboard, then tap a third-party or â€śotherâ€ť iOS keyboard that you want to re-enable.