How You’ll Write Emails on the Tiny Screen of a Smartwatch

A model displays the telephone function of the new Samsung Galaxy Gear.

A model displays the telephone function of the new Samsung Galaxy Gear. Gero Breloer/AP

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Kids of the near future could be writing term papers on these.

Imagine trying to compose an email on a keyboard just a tad bigger than a postage stamp. Nuance, whose technology powers speech-recognition systems like Apple’s Siri, thinks it has this problem licked—and it doesn’t involve voice recognition.

The key to typing emails on a tiny screen, says Peter Mahoney, chief marketing officer of Nuance, is the Swype keyboard, acquired by Nuance in in 2011 for $100 million.

Swype is an app for Android devices that modifies the keyboard so that it doesn’t require tapping; instead, you slide your finger over the keys to trace out a word. (Apple has so far blocked developers from tweaking its mobile keyboard, though the determined can get around this.) It has spawned a bunch of imitators, including Google itself, and Swype-like typing is now a standard feature on later versions of Android.

Read more at Quartz