Redmond has announced today the acquisition of SwiftKey, the maker of one of the most popular keyboard apps on Android and iOS.
It definitely looks like Microsoft is serious about bringing Word Flow to Android and iOS, as I reported a couple of weeks ago. Its own keyboard is already highly functional, fact that won it a Guinness World Record, but it seems that Microsoft plans to make it even better by integrating technologies from the newly acquired SwiftKey. However, this acquisition is about more than just implementing new features into an existing product. Over the past 8 years, SwiftKey has amassed quite a userbase, as there are more than 130,000 VIPs, not to mention the thousands of regular users. In fact, the SwiftKey keyboard and SDK can be found on 300 million iOS and Android devices, and Microsoft definitely wouldn’t mind attracting that many users to its side. Once again, the Redmond company’s strategy is in stark contrast with Apple’s, who prefers to develop apps exclusively for its own ecosystem.
“This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms,” explained Harry Shum, Executive VP, Technology and Research, in a blog post. “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.”
“Our number one focus has always been to build the best possible products for our users. This will not change,” added SwiftKey co-founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock on the company’s blog. “Our apps will continue to be available on Android and iOS, for free. We are as committed as ever to improving them in new and innovative ways.”
“In the coming months, we’ll have more to share about how we’ll integrate SwiftKey technology with our Guinness World Record Word Flow technology for Windows,” concluded Shum. “In the interim, I’m extremely excited about the technology, talent and market position SwiftKey brings to us with this acquisition, and about how this further demonstrates Microsoft’s desire to bring key apps and technologies to platforms from Windows to Android to iOS.”
No financial details have been released, nor have the companies disclosed what will happen to SwiftKey’s employees. It remains to be seen what exactly will Microsoft keep, what it will implement in its own keyboard, and what will happen to the SwiftKey app for iOS and Android. I’m particularly interested in SwiftKey Neural Alpha, which made the news back in October for being the world’s first neural network keyboard. That one really took word prediction and correction to a whole new level.
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