Nuance, a company that many people know thanks to their Dragon NaturallySpeaking software, has just confirmed to This is my next that they’ve acquired Swype for “approximately $100 million”. Swype, for those who may not be familiar with their work, was invented by the same dude who created T9. With Swype you simply draw a continuous line on the letters that form a word and then boom, said word appears on your screen. For some people, it’s the only way they’ll ever input text on a mobile device. For others, it’s an impressive piece of software to show their friends, but after a week they go back to pecking away on their traditional onscreen keyboard. Swype’s goal is to be preloaded on all portable devices, in much the same way that practically all featurephones and quite a few number of smartphones come with T9. The thing we don’t understand is why would a company that’s so laser focused on voice buy a company that’s all about touching your screen?
Earlier this week Apple announced the iPhone 4S and one of the features that stood out was Siri, a personal assistant that you can talk to using natural language. It’ll even talk back to you, so you can engage in an actual conversation with your Jesus Phone. We’re upset that Siri requires an iPhone 4S, and that you can’t input Siri commands via text, but whatever. Siri was purchased by Apple back in 2010. Before the acquisition, and some suspect that this is still true today, Siri depended on Nuance for transcribing your voice and feeding it to Siri’s artificial intelligence algorithms. So again, we’ve got to state our confusion as to why Nuance is picking up a company that’s all about text input.
Update: A little bit of research shows that Nuance bought the original company that came up with T9 back in 2007, so their acquisition of Swype now makes more sense.