Microsoft confirms SwiftKey buy, says it will continue developing Android and iOS apps

Microsoft may bring SwiftKey's keyboard to its Windows platforms too

Microsoft is buying SwiftKey, the developer of a popular software keyboard for Android and iOS phones -- even though it already has its own software keyboard, Word Flow.

Software keyboards such as SwiftKey and Word Flow are used to speed up input: Rather than pecking at individual letters, users slide their finger from one letter to another, drawing a shape on the touchscreen. The software analyses the pattern to identify which word they are trying to type.

Microsoft's executive vice president for technology and research, Harry Shum, confirmed the deal in a blog post Wednesday morning, after rumors began circulating Tuesday.

One of the attractions of SwiftKey is that it uses artificial intelligence techniques to speed users' typing.

Last October SwiftKey announced an alpha version of a new neural-network-based SwiftKey keyboard that does a better job of predicting which word the user will type next.

Most such systems perform the hard computation on a powerful server, sending a trickle of data from the smartphone to the cloud -- including everything the user types.

However, SwiftKey's Neural Alpha keyboard does the number-crunching on the phone, potentially allowing the system to be more respectful of users' privacy and security by storing and processing sensitive data locally.

In some ways, Microsoft's move is surprising, as it already has its own software keyboard, Word Flow, and last month announced that it would release versions of Word Flow for Android and iOS, where SwiftKey is already available.

Shum said Microsoft had no plans to shut down SwiftKey's iOS or Android apps, and promised to continue their development.

In addition, he said, "[We will] explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio," a move that could perhaps spell the end of Word Flow on Windows platforms. Shum promised further information about integration of SwiftKey and Word Flow in the coming months.

Microsoft isn't just after the software: It will also take on SwiftKey's staff, who work at the U.K. company's headquarters in central London and its offices in San Francisco and Seoul.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Ada Chan

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

I highly recommend the Dynabook Portégé® X30L-G notebook for everyday business use, it is a benchmark setting notebook of its generation in the lightweight category.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?