I’ve written briefly about the concept behind SwipeSelection, but it wasn’t until I decided to jailbreak with Absinthe 2 last week that I was able to really give it a try on my iPhone and iPad. SwipeSelection improves text selection on a touchscreen by adding an extra set of controls to the keyboard. iOS 5 users currently have to raise their fingers from the keyboard and then hold or double tap the text, in order to manipulate the text cursor. SwipeSelection enables users to swipe one finger along the keyboard to move the cursor around, or hold Shift while swiping to select text. This is an exciting concept because it mimics the way I work with a traditional physical keyboard: my fingers stay on the keys, regardless of whether I’m typing or editing. This keeps the controls more centralized, and speeds up all the little things, like editing a minor typo, or selecting and deleting the last six words you’ve written.
Unfortunately, I just couldn’t quite get used to SwipeSelection. Typing somehow felt slower with this tweak installed, as if my iOS devices were constantly deciding whether the brief taps on the screen were letter presses, or quick swipes to move the cursor. As a result, my keyboard would skip over every third or fourth letter I’d try to type.
SwipeSelection also demanded a greater degree of precision from my taps, as sliding to from J to K would move the cursor, instead of changing the letter. I also missed the ability to hold on the symbol (or Shift) key and slide to quickly select numbers or punctuations without taking my finger off the screen.
I wrote a fair amount of this post in past tense because SwipeSelection is no longer installed on either of my iOS devices. It’s a great concept that looks great in @danielchooper‘s video, but it just didn’t work for me in practice. Adding text selection to the keyboard space – which is already a very busy area – decreased my typing speed instead of increasing it. I’m grateful for the free tweak, but I’ll stick to Apple’s magnifying glass for now.