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  • Interview: Swype CEO's Stance On Jailbreak "Swype"


    A couple of days ago, ModMyi reported that Swype had been ported to iOS via a beta version. Developed by Andrew Liu (@WyndWarrior), the intent of this build was to bring Swype to iOS for the jailbreak community. ModMyi was the first to report this find, and the article caught the eye of Swype Inc, the company behind the initial innovation, technology, and the product Swype. Because the name "Swype" was used inappropriately without permission and the newly released application was not endorsed by the company, they wanted to state that what had recently been released was not a port of the official Swype product and was in no way affiliated with Swype Inc. We spoke to Brian Resnik - Community Relations Specialist at Swype who clarified his and Swype's stance on the ordeal and the original article posted:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Resnik;
    The first thing we want to make clear is that this version released via Cydia is not in any way an official Swype product, or related to Swype Inc. in any way. It appears this developer wrote some of his own code to emulate a Swype-like experience and is using our brand. We donít know if this is a Ďhackedí version of Swype or not. Iím thinking not. We are still investigating, but either way, this is not an official release or port of Swype to iOS. Additionally, since we weren't involved with the development of this application, we can not vouch for the integrity of the software. From a consumer's perspective, we recommend researching the developer on your own to ensure the trustworthiness of this application from a security standpoint.

    Our legal counsel is advising us on the best course of action regarding this 'hacked' release. We'll continue to follow the situation and do whatever our management team determines is appropriate to protect our intellectual property. We're not looking to prove a point or anything like that. Frankly, as our CEO mentioned in an interview with GeekWire on the topic, the clear interest demonstrated by this release from iOS users in having Swype is exciting. But we do still need to protect our brand if it turns out that some of our code, our patents, are being used.

    Also, people are already saying "this proves that you can get Swype on iOS, even if it's through Cydia, right?" Well, not really. Yes, you can get "tracing" to work via some serious hacking (and even then it only works on jailbroken phones, and in stock iOS applications), but there are other really important elements to Swype. For example, word replacement and editing. With Swype, we know that the prediction engine won't get it right 100% of the time. Most of the time, absolutely, but there will always be a mistake once in a while. The nice thing about Swype is that when that happens you can quickly pull up a list of alternative suggestions - in the new v3.0, they're automatically shown whenever you swipe a word or tap on a previously entered word. When you pick an alternative suggestion, Swype replaces the previously typed word with the new one. Without keyboard APIs, we have no way of interacting with the text field in those kinds of ways. Sure, you can get basic character entry to work, but to get the full Swype experience we absolutely require certain features to be implemented by Apple themselves.


    The key components to note from Brian's statement are:

    • This version released via a repository on Cydia is in no way affiliated with the official Swype product or related to Swype Inc.
    • The team over at Swype haven't concluded whether this application is a "hacked" version of Swype, however it appears that the developer wrote some of his own code to emulate a Swype-like experience.
    • As the Swype team was not involved with the development of this application, they can't vouch for the integrity and security of this application.
    • The interest shown from the iOS community wanting Swype is exciting. However, Swype still needs to protect their brand if their code and patents are being used.
    • Although this application shows that Swype can be done on iOS, this release misses the most staple features of Swype: word replacement and editing. For this reason, a Swype-like application will never run the same because the keyboard API's need to be available from Apple in order to get the full experience.


    For further clarification, we spoke briefly with Mike McSherry, CEO of Swype Inc, on Friday over phone to hear his position on the jailbreak "Swype" application and what the company is doing in response to the release.

    JOSH: How'd you first find out about this release?
    MIKE: My team and I actively follow Google, Twitter, and other places in regards to our brand and product, Swype. We first heard about this release through your recent ModMyi article and took our first steps from there. The information was passed on to the developer team for further investigation and testing of this newly released application. I am, along with my team, are conscious of our brand and put that priority high on our list. Although our goal is not to admonish or alter development in relation to Swype, if news of people using our patents, code, or brand name come up, it is in our best interest to protect and uphold our intellectual property.

    JOSH: I spoke with Brian Resnik, Community Relations Specialist from Swype earlier this morning and he mentioned that so far, there is no indication whether the application released is a hacked version or just simply a Swype-like implementation. Is investigation still under way and what has been discovered so far if so?
    MIKE: To be honest, it is not worth our while at this point to continue investigation, unless it regards some type of legal action. Our team here at Swype already has a working version of Swype on iOS that we use for business development purposes. For now, our development team has found no indication that this specific implementation has any Swype coding.

    JOSH: What are you feelings on the jailbreak community taking the Swype idea and implementing it on iOS? Has the excitement from the jailbreak community spurred any feelings of intrigue from members and developers at Swype?
    MIKE: Knowing that the iDevice community is interested in bringing Swype to iOS is exciting. I am always flattered to see interest in Swype wherever it may be. However, we want to protect our brand and make sure that Swype's reputation is displayed correctly. This recently released Swype-like application is a great example. Although we're pleased to see interest from iOS users, after testing the application, we found it to be buggy. I did not test it personally but people on my team have. As a result, people who have tested this application can make statements saying that "it's buggy, doesn't work, it lacks features," or statements along those lines. We in no way want our Swype brand to be shown in a negative light as this application in no way reflects how the official Swype technology works. So when words such as "ported" are used to describe this Swype-like application, they are used incorrectly because this application is not a direct port or a re-designed official version of Swype.

    JOSH: Have discussions with Apple been made about incorporating Swype into native iOS? If so, what progress has been made in the possibility of implementing it in the future?
    MIKE: Talks with Apple have been made, yes, but as I have mentioned, keyboard API has not been released or given to us yet. On the other hand, our product has actually been a strong factor to deter people from iOS and bring them to Android. Swype is installed on 40% of all Android devices on the market, which include numerous phones and tablet devices. Various companies, websites, reviewers, and others have claimed that Swype is a top feature that sparks people to choose Android initially or to switch from iOS to Android. Our business model to date has been OEM pre-load. The position we're in on the market scheme has been beneficial for our success as a company. Our primary focus currently is advancing our market share and spread with companies that have given us full support in regards to integration.

    JOSH: Have ideas such as an AppStore application or an official jailbreak application been entertained if Swype is not planning on being native in iOS in the near future?
    MIKE:Ideas of this nature have crossed our minds, but when it all comes down to it, it is all about resource attention. Hiring developers to meet the needs of our expansion in the current market we are in as is has been difficult. We can't seem to hire enough developers to keep this advancement on the move. For this reason, we need to stay focused on the task at hand until Apple opens their keyboard API, then we would be able to continue iOS development further. Due to the deep integration required for Swype to run proficiently, we want Apple's full support. That way our product can run as seamlessly and flawlessly as possible for the user. Our team does not have any engineers working directly with the jailbreak community so I can't make a comment on the nature of Cydia or the jailbreak community itself. However, from a marketing standpoint, extending to the jailbreak community is not in our plans at this current time. Even though approximately 6-10% of all iDevices are jailbroken, we need the keyboard API in order to give the full Swype experience.

    [NOTE: 6-10% has been confirmed by Jay Freeman (@saurik): number of devices can not be estimated]

    Because of this, it would not be optimal at this time to release an official jailbreak application of Swype as it would not be able to perform with all the staple features such as the word replacement, editing, and many others. The keyboard API is the key to our advancement into iOS integration.


    JOSH: What are your next steps in regards to further investigating this application and the developer?
    MIKE: We're not looking to pursue this any further at this point. I will be disappointed if I find out that the developer used our Swype brand without permission however. If this happens, then we will look into pursuing this issue.

    And a final note before our discussion ended:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike McSherry;
    I am a strong supporter of the hacker/developer community. I value the need for customization and personal touch and I am always intrigued to see interest in that regard. There have been developers on Android that have developed different types of addons to Swype which have made an interesting repertoire of changes to our product. But, if something is developed that emulates Swype and reflects poorly the brand, then it is in my interest to ensure that there is no tie between the official Swype product and what has been displayed. And of course, if our intellectual property is violated (code, patents, brand), then we will need to take some legal route.


    For more information about Swype Inc. and their product, visit the Swype website. Swype Inc. is also reachable on Facebook and Twitter.

    Source(s): Mike McSherry, Geekwire, Jay Freeman, Swype Inc., Swype - Facebook, Swype - Twitter
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Interview: Swype CEO's Stance On Jailbreak "Swype" started by Joshua Tucker View original post
    Comments 37 Comments
    1. SnowLeo's Avatar
      SnowLeo -
      Oh nice bulleted list to get through to me lol. Apple could just as easily implement a copy of it natively the same way they did with the notification bar, the internal beta which included a mic button in the keyboard for speech to text, the internal iOS 4 beta that had multiflow-style expose multitasking, and a android-style pattern drawn unlock thing that was in some developer thing but never made it's way to the native OS. I am by no means saying I expect Apple to strike up a deal with swype and implement their actual code and pay royalties, hell no. Exactly like you said with YouTube and google maps, when it comes to anything not made by Apple, Apple goes out of their way to not allow these developers (with the exception of Peter Hajas) natively integrate their software into the OS, because then you would get things like HTC sense, and touchwiz, which apple thinks is evil and fragmentation. Apple also does the same with it's approval process in the app store only allowing deva to use specific APIs provided and not allowing any native integration.

      Now what I am trying to get across is that Apple has proven itself to be fully aware of the issues of it's operating system and what the competition has to offer and iOS5 is probably the biggest proof that Apple likes to use the competitions solution with their own ideas to create a much better native solution like they did in both notifications and the iPad keyboard splitting.

      To sum it up, I am trying to say that Apple may just look for a way to natively implement an alternate keyboard input in a future OS version that would avoid paying royalties to Swype or buying them (because that would just be pocket change for apple). After seeing it's popularity, I am sure the big red fruit is at least considering the implementation of an alternate swipe or voice based typing system as native softwasre created by apples own developers with just a little inspiration from Swype. (:
    1. Joshua Tucker's Avatar
      Joshua Tucker -
      Quote Originally Posted by SnowLeo View Post
      Oh nice bulleted list to get through to me lol. Apple could just as easily implement a copy of it natively the same way they did with the notification bar, the internal beta which included a mic button in the keyboard for speech to text, the internal iOS 4 beta that had multiflow-style expose multitasking, and a android-style pattern drawn unlock thing that was in some developer thing but never made it's way to the native OS. I am by no means saying I expect Apple to strike up a deal with swype and implement their actual code and pay royalties, hell no. Exactly like you said with YouTube and google maps, when it comes to anything not made by Apple, Apple goes out of their way to not allow these developers (with the exception of Peter Hajas) natively integrate their software into the OS, because then you would get things like HTC sense, and touchwiz, which apple thinks is evil and fragmentation. Apple also does the same with it's approval process in the app store only allowing deva to use specific APIs provided and not allowing any native integration.

      Now what I am trying to get across is that Apple has proven itself to be fully aware of the issues of it's operating system and what the competition has to offer and iOS5 is probably the biggest proof that Apple likes to use the competitions solution with their own ideas to create a much better native solution like they did in both notifications and the iPad keyboard splitting.

      To sum it up, I am trying to say that Apple may just look for a way to natively implement an alternate keyboard input in a future OS version that would avoid paying royalties to Swype or buying them (because that would just be pocket change for apple). After seeing it's popularity, I am sure the big red fruit is at least considering the implementation of an alternate swipe or voice based typing system as native softwasre created by apples own developers with just a little inspiration from Swype. (:
      Yeah, the future will tell how this pans out. The thing is though - Swype has a working copy that runs perfectly on iOS. Mike McSherry even mentioned that. It's not like they're no where in this situation; it is just tough going around Apple and their framework. I think the potential roadblock is the fact that Swype is not meant for an application; it's meant for OS integration. For that reason, the process to get there is much more difficult.

      And in regards to Apple making a native implementation of their own, that is possible I'm sure. However, as I mentioned to Annie, the situation is entirely different than "taking" a jailbreak developer's work. Jailbreak developers are unable to create patents that protect them from Apple "per say." Swype can however as they are a company that has software on other platforms. Their patents are far extensive and protect their product to the fullest extent. For that reason, if Apple were to even make a move, I can imagine Swype would be on it to ensure that their product is not de-valued or used inappropriately.
    1. SnowLeo's Avatar
      SnowLeo -
      Ok one more rebuttle and I'm done for the night.
      Then what about the notification bar in iOS 5? I don't see google doing anything about it yet and I think google is a decently big sized company with a few patents(:

      While apple may not directly steal it, there's nothing that can stop apple from using inspiration for something like pressing multiple keys at a time and then it autocompletes it or provides suggestions in a Swype manner. Maybe even full out button for drawing input, where apple tranlates the drawn words into text or spoken words into text. Or maybe something else where you don't need to lift up your finger from typing.. Like after you start typing a letter it starts a list above the keyboard with common words and then you can drag to the desired word or continue typing normally.

      Anyone else notice the add comment button not working in mobile site?
    1. Joshua Tucker's Avatar
      Joshua Tucker -
      Quote Originally Posted by SnowLeo View Post
      Ok one more rebuttle and I'm done for the night.
      Then what about the notification bar in iOS 5? I don't see google doing anything about it yet and I think google is a decently big sized company with a few patents(:

      While apple may not directly steal it, there's nothing that can stop apple from using inspiration for something like pressing multiple keys at a time and then it autocompletes it or provides suggestions in a Swype manner. Maybe even full out button for drawing input, where apple tranlates the drawn words into text or spoken words into text. Or maybe something else where you don't need to lift up your finger from typing.. Like after you start typing a letter it starts a list above the keyboard with common words and then you can drag to the desired word or continue typing normally.

      Anyone else notice the add comment button not working in mobile site?
      All true; again though, Apple is the innovator. Google was the "me too - I need a phone that can combat the iPhone" company. If anything, Apple has tons of patents for mobile technology and Google has far less.

      I hope you take no offense to our discussion; I see it as way to both adequately expression. I'm taking no offense and see it as an enrichment to my knowledge and understanding. Not to mention, it's refreshing to have an intellectual conversation for a change.
    1. 14u2nv's Avatar
      14u2nv -
      Very classy responses. I like how they are handling this, and I fully agree that if it was their "system" then they have no choice but to go after it. Maybe Apple should take some lessons on public interaction from these guys.
    1. TheGrandFinale2001's Avatar
      TheGrandFinale2001 -
      Top notch reporting Josh.
    1. Joshua Tucker's Avatar
      Joshua Tucker -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheGrandFinale2001 View Post
      Top notch reporting Josh.
      Most appreciated friend.
    1. mixi92's Avatar
      mixi92 -
      Isn't this the same as "shapewriterPro" that was pulled out of appstore before? I still have it & still works for me.
    1. TTGator's Avatar
      TTGator -
      Yeah, I pointed this out the first time MMI incorrectly associated the two
    1. zinjen's Avatar
      zinjen -
      Can someone explain to me how Swype works? I use iRealSMS, so is this pointless anyways as I read it only works on native applications?

      If it does work: What is the benefit and how do you use it?
    1. i.Annie's Avatar
      i.Annie -
      You should YouTube a Swype video. It's not relevant to iRealSMS.
    1. Shanks12's Avatar
      Shanks12 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Colby21 View Post
      I love your articles. Keep 'em comin!
      I completely agree with this.... You're articles are a lot more interesting than someone just rewriting what is already out there..
    1. juggz143's Avatar
      juggz143 -
      Wow the comments where as great a read as the article +1 to Josh and Leo on not turning it into a trolling bout, I was half expecting a 'u mad bro' after every response... lol

      Just wanted to point out tho that android was in development B4 the iPhone was even released, so I disagree with the 'me too' statement. Apple just had the upper hand since they were making the entire phone where Google was going the licensing route only (initially and depending upon whether you consider the Nexus line made/developed by Google or not).
    1. TheGrandFinale2001's Avatar
      TheGrandFinale2001 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Tucker View Post
      Most appreciated friend.
      No problem, thank you for a great article. You have been doing some great work here.
    1. Joshua Tucker's Avatar
      Joshua Tucker -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shanks12 View Post
      I completely agree with this.... You're articles are a lot more interesting than someone just rewriting what is already out there..
      Thanks! I will continue to do my best.

      Quote Originally Posted by juggz143 View Post
      Wow the comments where as great a read as the article +1 to Josh and Leo on not turning it into a trolling bout, I was half expecting a 'u mad bro' after every response... lol

      Just wanted to point out tho that android was in development B4 the iPhone was even released, so I disagree with the 'me too' statement. Apple just had the upper hand since they were making the entire phone where Google was going the licensing route only (initially and depending upon whether you consider the Nexus line made/developed by Google or not).
      However here's the thing; it is a matter of beating the other one to the market. Apple stole the consumer market with the iPod in the beginning; the iPhone was the next step. Although Google may have been developing prior, they finished the race later in the game. They may have been in development, however Google's entire strategy with Android was to differentiate from the iOS software; for that reason, the notion would be that Google had to re-invent their game or step it up in order to compete.
    1. xerbox's Avatar
      xerbox -

      Okay, HOW does no one else remember the app a long time ago for the iPhone which was swype, except it was called something else.
      This was before android too.
      I thuoght it was such a good idea, and I was soo mad when android came out and they had swype
    1. domenicp's Avatar
      domenicp -
      Swype looks like a great input system. If incorporating it into iOS is not possible, I'd love to see an officially supported version of graffiti that they used to have for the Newton. I think Palm created it. Or if not graffiti, some other unistroke system. Anyone know if any are already out there?