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Old August 1st, 2012, 01:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The venerable FlexT9 is dead, its maker maybe leaving paid users hanging

For the longest time, many people have said that the SWYPE keyboard app for Android was best-of-breed. But, trust me, they hadn't tried Nuance's FlexT9 keyboard app. It's the hands-down best. Seriously. It really is/was head-and-shoulders better (and I say "is/was" because FlexT9 is now discontinued, yet it can still be downloaded... though for how much longer is unclear... keep reading).

Not only is/was FlexT9 better in terms of having the absolutely best, most intuitive keyboard layout (seriously... someone really well thought it out), but FlexT9 also contained the ability to be spoken to, or to swipe/write the letter shapes, or, of course to SWYPE from letter to letter without lifting one's finger until the end of the word...

...and here's what made FlexT9 better than SWYPE at that: For some reason FlexT9 was just plain better at figuring out what word one was SWYPing than was the SWYPE app. It is/was just more accurate... to the point that once it got used to the user, it barely missed. Even after training, SWYPE would still miss a lot. And its keyboard layout was nothing compared with FlexT9.
NOTE: I know just how much better FlexT9 is/was than SWYPE, by the way, because SWYPE came pre-installed as a stock app on my phone; so once I installed FlexT9, too, I could compare them head-to-head. And I did!
But SWYPE's name was better known, and Nuance wanted to use it; to have its FlexT9 keyboard bear the more popular SWYPE name. So Nuance bought SWYPE in October of 2011.

Nuance's new version of SWYPE is now in BETA; and the company is making a big deal of that it's free, with no indication of whether it will start costing anything once it's no longer in BETA.

And the new SWYPE, Nuance says, is FlexT9's successor. The latter is now officially discontinued. It will no longer be updated or supported. SWYPE will be offered in its place. That said, FlexT9's page in the Google Play Store still exists, though it it no longer searchable (in other words, one has to know FlexT9's Google Play Store page's URL or one cannot find it). FlexT9 also still has an also-difficult-to-find page on the Nuance Mobile Life web site, but all its download and other links are dead. No word is on it, either, about FlexT9 being discontinued. We learn that FlexT9 is officially dead, and that there will be no further updates or support, and that SWYPE is its successor when we go to the Nuance support page and use the contact form to try to open a trouble ticket, and then click on FlexT9 as the involved product. At that point, a pop-up appears explaining everything I've written in this paragraph. FlexT9 is also noticeably missing from Nuance Mobile Life's new product lineup.

Nuance says that the new SWYPE contains the best of both FlexT9 and the old SWYPE; so, then, apparently all that we've come to love about FlexT9 will (at least hopefully) be in the new SWYPE. Let's hope that's so, because what made FlexT9 special and best-of-breed was not just how it SWYPEd. It was also about that incredible (and incredibly intuitive) keyboard layout; how it just seemed to know where to put stuff so it would be right where it needed to be as one typed. It is/was, seriously, unbelievable.

But all is not roses. Nuance has been almost egregiously silent about it all; not so much as an email or text to its FlexT9 users warning them that the beloved FlexT9 for which they all PAID GOOD MONEY (some of them, like me, so recently that not even a year has passed since we did it) was about to be no more, with no update/upgrade or support either plans or intensions.

I think I nicely summarized the problem in the review of FlexT9 that I posted on its Google Play store web page this very day, to wit:
Posted by Gregg L. DesElms - August 1, 2012
WARNING! FlexT9 discontinued! Replaced by SWYPE!
I give it five stars because FlexT9 really is the hands-down best Android keyboard app out there. But Nuance (its developer) has discontinued it; and the replacement is the new SWYPE keyboard, which Nuance now owns (it bought the SWYPE company in October 2011). When they were separate companies, lots of people said, in forums and whatnot, to get FlexT9 instead of SWYPE, and they were right because FlexT9 was better. As long as the new SWYPE incorporates everything that was in FlexT9 (and I think it does), then that's fine. Here's the problem, though: For the moment (as of this writing on 31 July 2012) while the new SWYPE is still in BETA, it's free. And so if the new SWYPE is actually a better-than-FlexT9 upgrade, then, fine... free is good. However, why would Nuance purchase SWYPE only to give it away? SWYPE will, no doubt, when it's out of BETA, eventually be paid/commercial, just like FlexT9 was. And that, too, is fine, except that if FlexT9 is discontinued with no further support, then shouldn't paying FlexT9 users get a free upgrade to the new SWYPE? I only purchased FlexT9 six months ago! Need I pay, again, for SWYPE when it's finally out of BETA? Is that really fair? Really?
Of course, if Nuance keeps that FlexT9 page in the Google Play Store the way it now is, then even though it's not findable through normal means, those who wish to keep using it, and not upgrade to the new SWYPE, will all still be able to re-download it if ever needed. Even without further updates or support, doing that will at least not leave FlexT9 users twisting in the wind. Hopefully, that's why Nuance has done things that way; has killed the ability of anyone to find it through normal search, or to purchase it new, and has removed it from Nuance's list of apps, but still left it in the Google Play Store so that those who paid for it can still get at it if they ever need to.

But that's still very unsatisfying to those of us who have purchased FlexT9 sufficienently recently that it's still new to us. Others paid whatever it cost two or so years ago, and got a good two years use out of it. Some of us, though, not so much. Now, if Nuance does what I predict it will do, it will force me to pay, yet again, for its new SWYPE once it comes out of BETA and becomes paid/commercial, which it will almost certainly do.

The very least that Nuance could do, if it's unwilling to offer existing FlexT9 users a free upgrade to the new SWYPE, is give them a special price... a huge discount from the full price of SWYPE, whatever it will end-up being.

Along the way, Nuance needs to explain itself; to explain why it's doing all this quietly such that its loyal, paying FlexT9 users become so worried as this. Shame in Nuance for that.

I've opened a trouble ticket with Nuance and have asked it all of these things; and have also complained to it as I've complained here. I asked that it beforwarded to at least a supervisor, and preferably to Nuance's president, because I don't want some front-line tech support person telling me s/he doesn't know, or fumbling for any other kind of unauthoritative response. I'll, of course, report, here, whatever is Nuance's response.

Hopefully, Nuance will tell me that while it should have maybe communicated it better, FlexT9 users have nothing to worry about; that FlexT9 will always be downloadable from its page in the Google Play Store for those who choose to stick with it (and not move on to the new SWYPE) so that even if it ever has to be reinstalled for some reason, it'll be there. That will help at least keep FlexT9 from being "orphaned," as it now, for the moment, appears is going to be the case.

But equally hopefully, Nuance will tell me that any paid FlexT9 owner (which includes both me and my wife... two copies in the family) willl get either a free upgrade to the new SWYPE, or such a deep discount that no one will mind the discounted pittance that they must pay.

That's the fair way to do things. Let's hope it's what happens.

Thoughts, anyone?


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Old August 1st, 2012, 03:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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1) Sad to hear
2) Agree completely, heck, I bought FlexT9 in March of this year.
3) I hope they see this thread
4) I also hope they reconsider
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Old September 12th, 2012, 08:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks. Wondered why the app crashes every day or two. Appears to be for complex phrases. I wonder if the servers have been throttled back. I echo the other comments about tree quality and speed of this app. I've been a dedicated user for 2.5 years on a Motorola Atrix and Atrix2. Nuance needs to be more communicative if they want to preserve their user loyalty. Henry Taylor
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Old September 12th, 2012, 08:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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*the quality*
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Old September 12th, 2012, 11:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Post in the Swype forum. They read those posts.

Their responses are sometimes rather shocking as far as how little they care about their beta yesterday community.
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Old September 12th, 2012, 02:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Question Do you mean here? Or over on the Swype site?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lexluthor View Post
Post in the Swype forum. They read those posts.
By "Swype forum," do you mean this?

Swype Forums

Or are you referring to a sub-forum here. I only ask because when I type "swype" or "swype forum" into the search box here, I don't get anything that could be interpreted as a forum or sub-forum, here, that's dedicated to Swype.

Or did I not search right or something?


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Old September 13th, 2012, 07:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Sorry,i meant at the link you posted. Their own forums.
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Old September 13th, 2012, 01:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Unhappy UPDATE from the thread-starter

I've been meaning to update this thread for a while. Sorry it took so long. This posting is that update.

I heard back from someone in Nuance support within a day or two of when I first wrote. I had specifically asked, though, not to hear back from a front-line support person. I had asked, right at the top of my support message to have my questions forwarded to someone at Nuance who actually made decisions about such things. But a font-line support person replied, nevertheless.

I fired-back that I appreciated the reply, but that I wanted to hear from a director or VP or something; that I wanted to know exactly how FlexT9 would be treated, ongoing; and that I wanted assurances that FlexT9 users would not be left high-and-dry.

I never got a response to that second message.

But the first reply from Nuance support helped me to understand at least a little bit about what's going on. Between that, and what I'm about to write about the link to the FlexT9 page on the Google Play Store, I think I now have a pretty good picture of the situation...

...which I'll now share here, to wit: FlexT9 is definitely dead, as I earlier herein wrote. Even without what the Nuance support person told me, though, there's a bit of evidence, now, as to what's likely going on. For example, the FlexT9 product page on the Nuance Mobile Life web site...

Apps Flext9 | Nuance Mobile Life

...is still there, though it's not linked-to from any page on the Nuance Mobile Life website. Therefore, it would not surprise me if that page eventually disappeared... probably sooner than later, if I had to guess. The "Get FlexT9" button on that page is also no longer clickable (it used to take those who clicked on it to the FlexT9 page in the Google Play Store). However, the "Support" button on that Nuance Mobile Life FlexT9 page still is clickable; and if one follows where clicking on it takes one, one can still get support for FlexT9. Even after (whenever it finally happens that) the FlexT9 page is finally removed from the Nuance Mobility website, one will still likely be able to get FlexT9 support by getting to the support page by any other means. So that "Support" button on the likely-soon-to-be-removed FlexT9 page will not, in the future, be the only way to get support, I'm pretty sure. So I'm not sure we FlexT9 users should be worrying, quite yet, about there no longer being FlexT9 suupport.

So far, then, so good.

Sadly, the aforementioned FlexT9 page in the Google Play Store...

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nuance.flext9.input

...is not generally available to everyone. Unless one had previously purchased FlexT9 using whatever Google account with which one is currently logged-in to the Google Play Store, then one lands on a...

"We're sorry, the requested URL was not found on this server."

...error page when/if one tries to get to the FlexT9 page in the Google Play Store. Those of us who purchased FlexT9 can get to the page in the Google Play Store with no problem, though. So, that, right there, tells me that at least someone -- either Google or Nuance (or maybe Nuance, after being pressured by Google) -- wants paid users of FlexT9 to be able to get at it... at least for the foreseeable future. Therefore, those who once purchased it, and who then get a new phone or something (or who reset their existing phone and then need to reinstall everything) will still be able to find and reinstall it. For how long, we don't know. But I'm guessing for, again, at least the foreseeable future.

And FlexT9 continues to work. That's relevant because FlexT9 does some communicating with Nuance's servers in order to do its job. Some of what it does happens only in the phone, but much of what it does requires a quick communication with Nuance's servers. The fact that FlexT9 still even works, then, evidences that while it's a dead product, it's still being supported. Again, though, for how long is unclear. Some, here, suggest that the communication betwen FlexT9 and the Nuance servers is now slower... that maybe Nuance has throttled it back or something to give users the impression that FlexT9 maybe isn't as good as Nuance's new SWYPE product. I don't know if that's true, but my copy of FlexT9, and my wife's, seems to be working just fine.

What the Nuance support person told me, in effect, is that the new SWYPE...

Apps Swype 1 | Nuance Mobile Life

...is definitely completely replacing FlexT9; that FlexT9, again, is dead, dead, dead. And there ain't gonna' be no bringin' it back! The ship on that has definitely sailed. He did not, however, answer my questions about whether FlexT9 users would be getting a free or severely-discounted upgrade from FlexT9 to the new Swype. My insistence on getting that answer, among others, from a director or VP or someone with authority is part of that regarding which I've heard nothing back (nor likely will I, now, given how much time as passed).

Some things he wrote, though, scared me a little because they seemed to suggest that maybe the new Swype won't even be for sale as a product on the Google Play Store; that the only way to get it will be if the phone maker happens to include it, pre-installed as one of the phone's default apps. Of course, since most of the phone makers have always included Swype (the old version, from back before Nuance purchased the company in October of 2011), I'm not sure that that's as scary as maybe I'm worrying. I'm guessing that most of the phone makers will continue to pre-install Swype on their phones in the future, and so we'll all, then, be able to get what is, in effect, the new and improved FlexT9 in the form of the new Nuance version of Swype on our future phones.

And from my reading about the new Swype, it really does seem to be every bit as good as -- better, in fact, than -- FlexT9. I'll give Nuance that one. It's basically all that was good about both products, and little that was bad. The only thing that worries me is that FlexT9 and Swype used different keyboard layouts. I mean, they were boty QWERTY, of course; but FlexT9's placement of things, and what could and couldn't be accessed via long-press versus with a keyboard change key... FlexT9's way of doing all that was definitely superior to Swype's. And if Nuance doesn't want to tick-off all the Swype users (of where there have always been more than there have ever been FlexT9 users), then Nuance is likely to make the new Swype's keyboard layout and function more Swype-like than FlexT9-like. That said, hopefully Nuance will take this opportunity to disabuse both FlexT9 users and Swype users of that to which they've become accustomed at least a little bit; and so the new Swype keyboard will be a good compromise. I, for one, could probably live with that. Though... [sigh]... FlexT9 really got it right. And by that I mean REALLY got it right... far, far, far better than at least the pre-Nuance version of Swype. But, what the heck, maybe enough of FlexT9 will be left in the new Swype that we can all still live with it.

The big question, at this point, is how those of us with existing phones that have the old (pre-Nuance) version of Swype on them will be able to get a copy of the new Swype, if we decided to use it instead of FlexT9. Further evidence of that Swype, in the future, will only be available pre-installed on new phones is how this web page is worded...

Swype | How Do I Get Swype?

...however, anyone, it seems, can sign-up for Nuance Mobility's Swype BETA program, and get a copy of the new Swype now.

SEE: Swype | Text Input for Screens

Maybe that's going to be the only way that any of us can get the new Swype until whenever we upgrade our phones. Or, with any luck, maybe the old, pre-Nuance version of Swype that came with our phones will automatically finally upgrade to the new Nuance version of Swype through the Google Play Store app once it's out of BETA. Who knows.

Or maybe that's why FlexT9, though officially dead, is still supported and available for re-download/re-install if ever needed, for those who've already purchased it. Maybe that's what we're all supposed to use until we get new phones which have the new Swype pre-installed on them. Again, who knows.

I just hope, if that's the case, that Nuance keeps its FlexT9 servers running, and that FlexT9 remains as nice as it has always been for quite a while, yet, because I, for one, still have over a year to go on my two-year AT&T contract through which I got my Samsung Infuse 4G (SGH-i997), and through which my wife got her Samsung Captivate (SGH-i897). In my case, only if the price of the Samsung Galaxy Note (SGH-i717) from AT&T drops so low that I just can't resist will my wife's Captivate likely go into the drawer, and my Infuse go to her (or, alternatively, she gets a Galaxy SII or SIII at the same time that I get a Note)... none of which, I'm guessing, will happen for a while, yet. So I'm either stuck with FlexT9 (which, as long as it keeps working okay, and is supported, is fine with me), or must get the new Swype via the BETA program...

...and no one has said whether anyone with the new Swype installed on their existing phones via the BETA program will get said copies automatically upgraded to the first post-BETA version once BETA is overwith. Once again, who knows.

And that's part of the problem, here: Shame on Nuance for making us wonder like this! We, as paying users of FlexT9, deserve better!

And from what @lexluthor posted, here, it sounds like that I'm not the only person who feels that way; that many Nuance users complain about such things, only to receive what @lexluthor called, in his posting, here, "rather shocking as far as how little they care about their beta yesterday community."

[sigh] I would lament how big software (and hardware, too) makers just don't get it; that they just don't realize that if they don't make their userbase happy, they'll lose business. But if Nuance is cutting deals with all the big phone makers to continue including Swype, pre-installed, by default, then I'm guessing Nuance has no reason to fear a backlash from the likes of us. If it comes pre-installed on the phone, then we're purchasing it whether we want to or not, when we purchase the phone. So Nuance, then, can thumb its nose at us all if it wants...

...though, if so, that still, I insist, speaks volumes about the company's integrity... or, more accurately, lack thereof.

Oh, well. It is what it is. If FlexT9 continues to work -- and without delays or lagginess because Nuance has throttled its servers -- for the foreseeable future; and if it's supported; and if it continues to be available to existing paid customers on the Google Play Store so that it can be re-downloaded/re-installed on phones that get so screwed-up that they have to be factory reset for some reason (or they have to be factory reset because the OS is upgraded)...

...then... [sigh]... what the heck... I guess, all things considered, that it's okay in the end.

Still... shame on Nuance for keeping us in the dark about it! It has our email addresses (the ones tied to each of our phones and Google Play Store accounts which we used to purchase FlexT9 in the first place), and so it's inexcusable that Nuance didn't send us all a "Dear FlexT9 user" email message explaining what are the plans.

When demanding, as I did in my earlier emails to Nuance, for such information results in corporate silence from Nuance, then that, too, speaks volumes about the company's integrity.

And, newsflash, Nuance: Corporate integrity matters. We may not have any choice over whether the new Swype gets installed on our future phones...

...but we sure as hell have a choice about whether we spend our hard-earned money on such as Nuance's "Dragon Go," and "Dragon Search," or "Dragon Dictation," or "Dragon for Email" for our smartphones; or any of Nuance's other products for desktop and notebook computers. Over that we do have control; and over how Nuance has handled the FlexT9 situation, I, at least, will have a long memory...

...which I would think would matter since I recommend software software to my paying clients literally thousands of times per year. If I steer each of them away from Nuance products in the future, and turn them on to worthy alternatives, then while that would matter little to Nuance's overall bottom line, it would, nevertheless, be a not-insignificant amount of revenue that Nuance would be losing.

And I don't care how arrogant is a company in this market, that can't possibly be what Nuance's Board of Directors wants, or what its founder had in mind when he started the business.


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Old September 16th, 2012, 08:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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DesElms,

Thanks a million for your dogged pursuit of this matter.

I have only been using the FlexT9 keyboard (paid) for a about four months now. Out of interest I also signed up for the SWYPE Beta - to compare and contrast.

The SWYPE Beta had non too favourable reviews on forums, and rightly so. It did not match up to the expectations of FlexT9 users for accuracy in text prediction ,swiping capability, keyboard layout and aesthetics.

I still have both keyboards on my phone but much prefer FlexT9 for the above shortcomings of SWYPE.

Sad to see it go away already. A premature death!

Whilst FlexT9 is/was a pedigree animal SWYPE is currently a mongrel...and unattractive at that!

I always back up my apps to a PC as apk files so that I can transfer them later if needed (after a factory reset). But as you mention above there will come a time when Nuance's servers will not support the app.

It's going to be interesting to see how this progresses with regards to compensatory refunds to FlexT9 users (i.e. discounts on SWYPE for current FlexT9 users, or total refund - it's a contractual breach of service!).

I think it is poor conduct of Nuance not to inform FlexT9 customers of important changes like this. Does not cement customer retention.

Rather like the Hotmail to Outlook fiasco!
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Old September 18th, 2012, 03:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Just to clarify upon a comment in the original post. Swype is in constant (perpetual) beta. It is not, and has never been (as far as I'm aware) offered for sale to the public and probably never will be. It is sold only to manufacturers for pre-installs. It does seem though that the Swype beta program will continue indefinitely.

I for one hope that Swype will be improved as a result of the purchase of flext9, however the first changes made to Swype subsequently were to replace the wonderful edit-layer with a significantly inferior one, and also to make Swype, as a whole, laggier and far less responsive. Hopefully future betas will resolve this but that hope is a forlorn one I suspect, as Swype is firmly geared towards emerging tech rather than to catering to the needs of those running older phones/tablets.

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Old January 3rd, 2013, 12:12 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Flex T9 Dead !?!?!?

I just stumbled onto this thread after I recently reset my phone!

If it weren't for this thread I don't think I would have been able to get this re-installed onto my phone so thank you for that! Seriously... Thank you for that!

When I wasn't able to find it through the regular avenues I started testing other software to see if they were comparable. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

Thanks for chasing this down and posting all of this useful information in this thread.

Thanks to your link I got the software that I paid for and would really not like to have to change from.

I completely agree with your views on nuances handling of this and how this reflects on their other products. I am also very reluctant to recommend any of their other products to our customer base (which is extensive in the medical transcription industry).
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 10:01 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaxxaq View Post
I just stumbled onto this thread after I recently reset my phone! If it weren't for this thread...
[snip for brevity]
...to recommend any of their other products to our customer base (which is extensive in the medical transcription industry).
It's nice to know that what I suggested is still working. There's a Samsung Note (or maybe Note 2) in my not-too-distant future, and I'll be wanting, of course, to install FlexT9 on it. From your posting, zaxxaq, I now know that it's at least still working as of this writing. With my luck, though, it won't be by the time I'm ready.

Thanks, zaxxaq! Good luck.
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Old January 17th, 2013, 10:05 AM   #13 (permalink)
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FlexT9 is THE SUPERIOR keyboard for Android!! My phone crashed and I found that the app is no longer on the Android mkt. I then realized that I had bought it via Amazon Mkt and I redownloaded it from there. I sure hope Nuance doesn't kill it entirely as I was completely lost looking for alternatives.
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Old January 17th, 2013, 08:14 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by lburgguy View Post
FlexT9 is THE SUPERIOR keyboard for Android!! My phone crashed and I found that the app is no longer on the Android mkt. I then realized that I had bought it via Amazon Mkt and I redownloaded it from there. I sure hope Nuance doesn't kill it entirely as I was completely lost looking for alternatives.
It's good to know that maybe Amazon has taken the same position as the Google Play Store with regard to ensuring that FlexT9 is always available at least to those who already paid for it. I keep assuming, though, that it's Google and/or Amazon's idea. Heck, for all we know, Nuance wanted it that way. It seems more likely, though, that since both Google Play and Amazon are the actual collectors of the money, they want to ensure that that for which one has paid is always available.

Thanks for the comment, lburgguy. I agree: FlexT9 is the superior keyboard.
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Old January 17th, 2013, 08:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: The venerable FlexT9 is dead, its maker maybe leaving paid users hanging

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Old April 29th, 2013, 05:04 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Cool UPDATE on FlexT9 and SWYPE

The Gizmag website (which, I dunno 'bout anyone else, but I just love) did a story a few days ago about the new Nuance version of SWYPE finally leaving BETA state, and going live on the Google Play Store.

SEE: http://www.gizmag.com/swype-android-google-play-store/27236/

My fear, at this point, then, is that FlexT9 really and truly will, finally, be phased out; and by that I mean that the servers in Nuance's data center with which FlexT9 connects for voice-to-text, and certain other functions, will be turned off. That, if it happens, really will finally kill FlexT9.

In any case, I just posted the following long comment beneath that Gizmag article (which, at this writing is still awaiting moderation, which they say can take up to 24 hours; so it may not yet be appearing there) to kind of bring everyone over there up to date on what pretty much everyone over here already knows. By posting it here, though, and referring everyone here over to the Gizmag article, at least some kind of update is being provided.

So, then, here's my long comment beneath that Gizmag article:
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"
SEE: http://bit.ly/N0A95C

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 too 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!

Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com
For whatever that's worth.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 07:46 AM   #17 (permalink)
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i'm in the same boat- LOVE Flext9 and shocked its not available. i've tried others and couldn't compare. however, bad news is i purchased mine via amazon and just went online to my apps on amazon and when i click on Flext9 on my apps i get an error message!
We're sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site


so i guess us amazon purchasers are out of luck if we need to download again!
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Old May 30th, 2013, 08:05 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Just one man's opinion who loved FlexT9 and bought the new, non-beta Swype:

Keyboard layout is slightly worse, depends on individual.
Word recognition when swyping is better.
Can't tell if speech recognition is better or worse, but have experienced few errors in Swype.
I find accurate number entry via handwriting a nice plus (was that in FlexT9?), at the cost of a smaller spacebar.

Overall, I like Swype better for its making less mistakes in interpreting my swypes. Long-press characters are harder to see in darker layouts (and in a why'd-they-move-my-cheese reaction, are in different places).

[Nice to see FlexT9 fans, after seeing so little mention of it in "Best keyboard" threads. Was the best IMHO.]
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Old May 30th, 2013, 08:10 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj2me View Post
Just one man's opinion who loved FlexT9 and bought the new, non-beta Swype:

Keyboard layout is slightly worse, depends on individual.
Word recognition when swyping is better.
Can't tell if speech recognition is better or worse, but have experienced few errors in Swype.
I find accurate number entry via handwriting a nice plus (was that in FlexT9?), at the cost of a smaller spacebar.

Overall, I like Swype better for its making less mistakes in interpreting my swypes. Long-press characters are harder to see in darker layouts (and in a why'd-they-move-my-cheese reaction, are in different places).

[Nice to see FlexT9 fans, after seeing so little mention of it in "Best keyboard" threads. Was the best IMHO.]
Thanks for that review. If I can't get Flex on my S2 that's in the UPS truck right now, I'll try this.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 10:01 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Is it now called SwiftKey?

Hi there,

Is FlexT9 now called, SwiftKey by TouchType Ltd. available on Amazon?

ASIN: B005D9MUWY

Thanks.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 10:14 AM   #21 (permalink)
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No they're different. BUT Google's new keyboard is free, no hassle and works really well. I'm using it now and find it to be pretty darn good! Now that Google's keyboard and Swype rule the roost there seems to be little need for T9. Shame they couldn't have kept up and capitalized on their superior product sooner.
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Old July 17th, 2013, 03:43 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Default Rule the roost?

I'm not so sure Google/SWYPE rule the roost, especially for bilingual users. I think Dasur's SlideIT is AWESOME! Have you guys tried it?
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