That’s according to a new report by the Financial Times, citing “people familiar with the deal,” which is expected to be announced this week.
Gathering artificial intelligence
The deal is being framed as part of Microsoft’s efforts to step up its plans for artificial intelligence (AI).
SwiftKey sets itself apart from other keyboard apps like Fleksy and Minuum with its “uncannily accurate” next-word prediction, which, together with what the startup touts as “autocorrect that actually works,” makes for quick and easy mobile typing. Its so-called predictive engine leverages the power of AI to offer smart suggestions in the context of what a user is writing and learns from the user’s language style over time to personalize its predictions.
In a special use case, SwiftKey is built into the communication platform used by the famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (pictured above), who has motor neurone disease and can only communicate by “typing” with a small sensor activated by his cheek. SwiftKey taps into a special language model and learns from the scientist to offer tailored predictions and autocorrections.
Going with the flow
It’s likely that Microsoft will be using the core technology behind SwiftKey to improve its own keyboard app, Word Flow (pictured below).
Currently available on Windows Phone but coming soon to iOS, Word Flow already enables users to type words quickly by gliding their fingers over the letters on the keyboard, in addition to offering automatic suggestions and corrections. The integration of SwiftKey’s context- and style-based next-word prediction technology into Word Flow is sure to make typing with the app even easier, especially in one-handed mode.
Interestingly, SwiftKey is available on iOS and Android, but not on Windows Phone.