Swype Android keyboard out of beta, available in Google Play Store for $0.99

swypegoogleplaySwype’s Android keyboard is finally out of “beta” phase and now available to the masses.

Swype, a Seattle-area startup that was acquired by Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance  for $102.5 million back in October 2011, has arrived in the Google Play Store.

Previously, the keyboard that allows you to form words by dragging your finger from letter to letter came preloaded on select Samsung, HTC and Motorola phones. It was also available to beta testers, though the process of getting it on your phone was a bit convoluted.

But now, any Android user can get Swype for $0.99 for a “limited time.” There’s also a free 30-day trial available.

Perhaps the move to the Google Play Store is a sign of growing competition for Swype. One of its main competitors, SwiftKey, sells for $3.99. The app recently launched a new version that incorporates a feature called SwiftKey Flow, letting users type by gliding a finger across the keyboard to connect letters, maintaining contact with the screen — very similar to Swype’s functionality.

Much of the Swype team continues to be based in Seattle, where Nuance has a large presence.

mikemcsherryradio

Former Swype CEO Mike McSherry joined us at our live radio show earlier this month.

Earlier this month, we enjoyed having former Swype CEO and current Nuance vice president Mike McSherry as a guest at our first-ever live radio show. He told a behind-the-scenes story about Swype’s discussions with Scott Forstall, then Apple’s senior vice president in charge of iOS, about making the Swype technology work on the iPhone.

It was a classic startup dilemma — which platform should they bet on? Ultimately Swype signed a deal with Samsung to put Swype on Android. Apple responded to the news by making it clear they were no longer interested in talking with Swype. ”Good luck to you,” McSherry recalls them saying.

Did Swype make the right choice?  ”Yes. Android has proliferated,” McSherry said, estimating that Swype has been installed on about 500 million devices to date. “Unbelievable,” he said, as our crowd at the HUB Seattle cheered.

McSherry, who recently launched a voice-powered mobile advertising platform for Nuance (think Siri for ads), also answered our questions about the changing landscape for wireless carriers, and the future of gestures and voice commands as methods of interacting with our devices. Listen to the full conversation here.

I’ve had Swype on my Galaxy S3 for quite some time now, and I absolutely love it. My favorite part is that it remembers personalized words — like Soper, or GeekWire — after you use them once. It makes typing extremely fast and much more efficient than punching in individual letters like my Apple friends do. And no, there’s still no word of a Swype app for the iPhone.

Previously on GeekWire: A Siri for advertising: These mobile ads talk back to you