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February 2, 2016updated 04 Sep 2016 10:42pm

Microsoft buys UK keyboard apps maker Swiftkey in AI push

News: Microsoft plans to further develop Swiftkey for Android and iOS following the $250m acquisition.

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft has bought Swiftkey, a popular predictive text app that can be found on over 300 million smartphones using Android and iOS. Phonemakers such as Samsung and Blackberry have Swiftkey pre-installed on their phones.

With this acquisition Microsoft plans to incorporate machine-learning technology into its own virtual personal assistant app Cortana.

In addition to this, Microsoft also wants to enter into the software keyboard market with its own Word-Flow smart keyboard. Microsoft wants to target iPhones and Android phones with the keyboard.

Microsoft Technology and Research executive vice president Harry Shum said: "In this cloud-first, mobile-first world, SwiftKey’s technology aligns with our vision for more personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands, and directly supports our ambition to reinvent productivity by leveraging the intelligent cloud.

"SwiftKey estimates that its users have saved nearly 10 trillion keystrokes, across 100 languages, saving more than 100,000 years in combined typing time. Those are impressive results for an app that launched initially on Android in 2010 and arrived on iOS less than two years ago."

Swfitkey once topped the charts of Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

The app uses machine-learning technology to learn from a user as he or she types words and will suggest words to complete the sentence in a better way.

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Swiftkey has been financed in the past by investors such as Accel Partners, Index Ventures and Octopus Investments in 2013.
Shum added: "We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio.

"Moreover, SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control."

Swiftkey co-founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock said in a joint blog: "Our mission is to enhance interaction between people and technology. We think these are a perfect match, and we believe joining Microsoft is the right next stage in our journey."

In December 2014, Switkey announced the completion of a project taken up by itself and Intel. The project is to develop a system that can help world-renowned physicist and best-selling author Prof. Stephen Hawking to help him type better and make communication easier for him.

Swiftkey also supports typing in numerous languages ranging from Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish, etc and many more languages.

Even though Swiftkey has been popular, it has not made considerable profits even with its $4 model or free-to-use model.


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