Okay, here's the whole story, which may interest at least SOME around here...
Nuance is the maker of Dragon Naturally Speaking; and it purchased and now maintains and distributes well-known Windows desktop/laptop products like OmniPage and PaperPort.
In the mid-to-late-2000's, Nuance Nuance released its series of "T9" products for mobile phones...
SEE: http://bit.ly/16e8gRI (scroll down to lower-left page quadrant)
...which allowed all kinds of interesting input capabilities, including swyping (though not using the original "Swype" brand technologies).
By... um... well... I think it was mid-to-late-2010 (or maybe early 2011), Nuance had taken the "T9" technologies, plus a modified version of the Dragon Naturally Speaking technology, and it packaged them into a little-known keyboard named "FlexT9"...
SEE: http://bit.ly/VeT5TT (old page re: FlexT9 on the Nuance website)
SEE: http://bit.ly/16eb6WU (review of FlexT9 on Android Rundown)
SEE: http://bit.ly/16eh5uF (App of the week: FlexT9 on The Droid Guy)
...which was a very, very hot four-in-one tool that allowed tap typing, or swyping, or forming the characters in freehand, or speaking the words. It was, I must say, freakin' amazing... far more interesting and better than most people realized.
What I noticed about it, more than anything else, is the intuitive way that alternative characters were made accessible. It was like the people at Nuance could read my mind. It seemed that whenever I needed a certain alternative character, it was right there on the main screen, as a long-press item. And even if it wasn't, it was always either a main keyboard item, or a long-press item, on the alternative keyboard that replaced the main one if you pressed the "123" key. Between the two of them, whatever one needed was always there; and, moreover, it was always in the first place you'd look for it.
Yes, the swyping, freehand letter forming, and speaking were all very cool. But, for me, the unbelievable intuitiveness of the characters needed, just both where and when needed, was FlexT9's superpower.
The swyping was quite good... better, I thought, than the Swype brand keyboard's swyping. But there were some things that the Swype brand keyboard did a little tiny bit better when it came to just the swyping function. Still, whatever the Swype brand keyboard offered that FlexT9 didn't wasn't worth it to me. Even though the Swype brand keyboard came with my phone, I used (and still use) FlexT9, exclusively. Once it gets trained: Oh. My. God. Nothing can touch it. Seriously. It's the best keyboard I've ever used. And every single person whom I turned-on to it -- including one guy who insisted that the Swype brand keyboard had changed his life -- agree that FlexT9, all things considered, was best-of-breed. It's the kind of product the really gets under your skin and you just can't quit it.
Then, Nuance surprised everyone by purchasing the Swype company in October of 2011. It said relatively little about it at the time, but it was clear that Nuance wanted the things about swyping which the Swype brand keyboard did that FlexT9 didn't (which was darned few things, mind you, but I'm just sayin' that that's obviously what was going on).
We FlexT9 users all hoped that Nuance would just incorporate the needed Swype brand features into the FlexT9 keyboard and that would be that. A few of us acknowledged, though, that the "Swype" brand was likely too big for Nuance to retire, and so we just figured FlexT9 would live on as the new Nuance version of Swype that we figured was coming; the one we figured would basically be FlexT9, but with the best of Swype added into it, and renamed "Swype." Certainly, had I been running Nuance (which I notice no one has ever asked me to do... odd), that's how I would have done it.
But, alas, it was not to be. Nuance is fairly notorious for taking the convoluted approach. Though it's not quite as bad as... oh... say... Symantec, for example, for purchasing companies and/or products, and then effectively running them straight into the ground, Nuance comes darned close.
By early 2012, FlexT9 had been removed from the Google Play Store for anyone who hadn't already purchased it. For those of us who had, we could still get at the FlexT9 page as long as we logged-in to the Google Play Store with the email address we used to originally purchase FlexT9 (and I just double-checked that and it's still true); and we could still download it to an either restored-to-factory-state existing phone, or a new phone. The purchase, then, was tied to the user, not the phone. No one who never purchased it, though, back when it was a current product, may even see te FlexT9 page in the Google Play Store. Kinda' interesting how they did that. But now I digress. Sorry.
With the discontinuance of FlexT9, we noticed (or were told about it, if we complained to Nuance about FlexT9's discontinuance and ceasing of further development) the new BETA Swype on the Nuance website. And we could sign-up to sideload the new Nuance Swype app to our phones and use it, and submit suggestions and bugs, etc.; which I, for one, did.
As the article-in-chief on this page mentions, the new Nuance version of Swype stayed in that BETA state for a seeming eternity in smartphone years. And the first thing that we FlexT9 users noticed about the new Nuance version of Swype is that it retained pretty much all that was good about the Swype brand keyboard, plus added new and interesting Nuance stuff (so, so far, so good), but the intuitiveness of alternative character placement which made FlexT9 just so freakin' amazing was... well... it's not fair to say it was completely gone, but, alas, it was a mere shadow of its former self.
Being able to talk to the keyboard, and have the words appear, is still there. So, of course, is swyping. And even tap typing has been enhanced in terms of the keyboard sort of "learning" how one types, and then anticipating the words. Of course, for those of us who like all that crap turned off, it's no benefit. Sadly, being able to form the characters, freehand, seems to be gone.
In the process of compromising, though, Nuance also removed some beloved Swype brand features. See this thread in the Swype support forums:
http://bit.ly/ZwivwS (Swype inpressions from old user - Swype forums)
There are, in fact, 52 (at this writing) threads in those forums where "FlexT9" is either mentioned in a posting, or is the subject...
SEE: http://bit.ly/ZwiAAG (Swype forums containing "FlexT9")
...and some of it is pretty interesting reading. The bottom line of it is that it seems Nuance has compromised enough in the new Swype brand product that neither old Swype, nor old FlexT9 users are happy.
I'm going to go ahead and purchase the new Swype, but I'm not going to uninstall my old FlexT9. At 56 years old, you'd think I'd be so set in my ways that I resist change just for its own sake; but pushing 40 years as an IT professional has disabused me of such intransigence. So I will give the new Swype a really fair trial; and will try not to mumble to myself, at every turn, that FlexT9 is better. That said, if I had to bet, I'd say that I'll be returning to FlexT9...
...and so let's hope that Nuance doesn't turn-off the server that it uses to do word look-up and voice-to-text. The minute THAT happens, FlexT9 really WILL be dead; and, of course, it's my great fear/concern that that day is not far off. We'll see.
I started a thread about all this back in August of 2012 in the Android Forums entitled...
The venerable FlexT9 is dead, its maker maybe leaving paid users hanging
As soon as I get done typing all this, and posting it, I'm going to go over there and post a version of this, and refer them back to this Gizmag article, to update them.
[sigh] Nothing lasts.
On the Nuance site, there's a really good FAQ page about Swype's going out of BETA, and its going into the Google Play Store. It also includes some good info about support, and how to ask questions and stuff. Everyone should read it.
SEE: http://bit.ly/13H1v6J (Nuance FAQ about Swype)
The bottom line, for me, is that I really, believe it or not, do like Nuance products. Oh, sure, I'm none to happy about what it did to old OmniPage Pro (though that software remains the best-of-breed commercial OCR product); and I've explained, herein, what I hate about the FlexT9/Swype situation. But the bottom line is that, all things considered, Nuance's stuff is pretty darned good. I'm still deciding how I feel about "Dragon Go!" but I'm kinda' likin' "Dragon Mobile Assistant."
Time will tell whether the new Swype, or old FlexT9, will be my default keyboard a few months from now.
Hope that helps!
29th April, 2013 @ 2:45 p.m. (California Time)