Nuance swipes Swype in $102 million deal

Swype logoSpeech recognition software company Nuance has acquired Swype, a startup that produces an efficient text input system that has become popular on smartphones. Nuance is reportedly paying $102.5 million for the deal.

Swype's touchscreen keyboard system, which we reviewed on Android last year, allows users to input text by sweeping a finger or thumb across the letters of the word that they wish to write. It represents a major breakthrough for touchscreen typing, greatly improving both speed and accuracy.

We have been very impressed with the efficacy of Swype's keyboard during day-to-day use and consider it (or any of the relatively good clones that emerged over the past year) a must-have feature on touchscreen Android phones. A growing number of Android handset manufacturers are licensing it to include it on their devices.

We have long suspected that the startup, which was founded by T9 inventor Dr. Cliff Kushler, would be acquired by a major mobile industry player. Due to the growing importance of Swype in the Android ecosystem, Google seemed like the most likely candidate. Nokia, which has partly funded Swype, also seemed like a contender. Nuance sweeping up Swype comes as a bit of a surprise, but the acquisition makes plenty of sense when you take a closer look.

Nuance happens to be the current owner of T9 and is seemingly interested in making a bigger play for the mobile market. The company sells a custom Android keyboard application called FlexT9 that supports T9, speech recognition, and a tracing input mechanism that mimics the one in Swype's keyboard. Acquiring Swype will give Nuance the valuable underlying IP behind the tracing input model.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Android, mobile phones

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