iPhone users have long awaited an improvement to the keyboard interface in iOS, looking for Apple to either adopt Swype, the line-drawing, mobile typing sensation that is standard equipment on Android phones, or something like it. Perhaps Siri was supposed to forge past Swype and encourage audio dictation in place of typing, but at present, users are still looking for a more streamlined approach to typing on the iPhone.
Is it possible that Cupertino could capitulate and adopt Swype in time for the iPhone 6 in 2014?
Unfortunately, the report we have to work with, posted on The News Tribe, is just about the most poorly written iPhone 6 article I’ve come across yet — it reads like one long spam comment at the bottom of a blog post about weight loss supplements or electronic cigarettes. Moreover, it seems that the writer is conflating the “iPhone 6″ with this year’s release, assuming that Swype could come as early as the iOS 7 rollout. I think he’s a little confused. Regardless, this quote reads like this:
“Aaron Sheedy, Swype VP, while responding to a question from a reader, who asked about possibility of inducting Swype keyboard in Apple devices, on Reddit says, “Hah. The million (ok billion) $ questions. Yes, we have chatted with them. They are very smart and nice.” (sic)
Talk about a conflicting statement: “Hah” and “They are very smart and nice” implies a “no,” while “Yes,” is a clear affirmative to the question. The writer of the article goes on to assert that Apple doesn’t talk to vendors and suppliers of technologies unless they are serious about using them. I don’t know if I share that assertion: Apple, for example, has been licensing LiquidMetal’s alloy for years, and still has yet to implement it in any of their mobile devices’ form factors; their move to control LiquidMetal’s use in mobile devices may simply be a gambit to keep it out of the hands of its competitors.
The Swype technology is a different kind of issue, since it is already being used on a myriad of other devices. In the past, one got the feeling that Steve Jobs wasn’t really crazy about it, and that he didn’t really think that the iOS keypad was all that bad. However, it’s a new crew at Apple, and they do things quite differently: it isn’t beyond the pale to imagine Swype coming to the iPhone 6.
There is, of course, a question of money in all of this as well.
In order for Apple to add Swype into iOS, they’ll need to license the technology. Considering Swype’s ubiquitous use across Android devices, as well as the rise in popularity of certain Android smartphones from the likes of Samsung, Motorola, and HTC, Swype’s valuation as a company and mobile input tool has only risen in the past few years. In other words, it’s going to cost Apple a nice chunk of change to add it into the iOS mix.
So, Apple has to ask itself this question: would the addition of Swype help them sell more iPhones? Still another: is it worth cutting into the profit margin to add Swype?
When you look at it from that perspective, you could imagine that perhaps Cupertino will come up with its own novel, new keyboard input method first; building it in-house would save them a ton of money.
I think that the litmus test will be this year. With the iPhone 5S on tap, this year will most likely be a big year for iOS, and a perfect opportunity to seriously upgrade the keypad for Apple mobile devices. If they decide to stand pat with what they have, then maybe we could see Swype adoption in 2014. But I still expect Apple to come out with its own solution.