Although Swiftkey is often termed as an artificial intelligence start-up, most of the Android users know it as a company that has produced one of the best swipe keyboards for smartphones and tablets. In a swipe keyboard you don’t need to press individual keys in order to type; you can simply slide your finger on the keyboard from one key to another and this way you can type a complete word. If you drag your finger over to the spacebar you don’t even have to lift your finger after typing every word. The keyboard uses artificial intelligence to protect the next word you are going to type. This actually works quite well especially when you are tapping individual keys. I have been using Swiftkey for many years now and even purchased the premium version, many years ago.
Swiftkey is also available now on iOS but it isn’t as good as on Android. This might be good news for Android users. But a slightly disconcerting news is that Microsoft has just purchased Swiftkey, according to this Newsweek update.
So why has Microsoft purchased an Android swipe keyboard especially when it has its own Word Flow that is supposed to work quite well? It’s not about being able to type on your smartphone by sliding your finger across the keyboard. It’s about artificial intelligence, according to this Re/Code analysis. Microsoft is heavily betting on Cortana and its success depends on the degree of intelligent assistance it can provide to its users, especially compared to Siri from Apple. The logic behind Swiftkey is more about taking the next action based on your previous actions. This set of contextual information is collected over a period of time while you go on using your device and the interface. The Swiftkey team will be joining Microsoft’s research team with its long experience working with artificial intelligence. Swiftkey uses neural network to protect the next words instead of the standard algorithms.
The deal is going to cost Microsoft around $ 250 million.
Swiftkey is perhaps the only keyboard that is now working in all major mobile phone environments including Android, iOS and BlackBerry, and now it may also work on Windows 10 devices.