Feature Article

February 03, 2016

Microsoft Furthers its Mobile Ambitions with SwiftKey Acquisition

There’s been a lot of speculation lately that Microsoft is more or less out of the mobile game, largely because of underwhelming response to its latest flagship smartphones, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. But that’s a pretty narrow view of a diverse industry. Not only does Microsoft have a popular mobile product on its hands with the Surface, it has a strong presence in mobile software—a presence that just got a lot stronger.

That’s because Microsoft has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire SwiftKey, the popular keyboard alternative that has been available on Android for some time and relatively recently made its way to iOS devices. Currently powering more than 300 million Android and iOS devices, SwiftKey’s technology was the original mobile keyboard to bring predictive typing to the forefront, thanks in large part to clever use of the cloud.

By SwiftKey’s estimates, its keyboard has help users save nearly 10 trillion keystrokes across 100 languages, or more than 100,000 years in combined typing time.

“This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms,” wrote Harry Shum, executive vice president for technology and research at Microsoft, in a blog post announcing the acquisition. “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.”

As of now, it’s unclear how Microsoft plans to leverage SwiftKey’s technology to enhance its mobile offerings. It’s possible SwiftKey will be a key feature in upcoming Lumia offerings or, more likely, on the rumored Surface Phone.

All Shum would say is that the company plans to integrate SwiftKey’s technology with Microsoft’s own Word Flow technology for Windows, so it’s possible future Windows devices big and small won’t notice much different, but there will be some improvements behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Android and iOS users can breathe a sigh of relief: SwiftKey development for both platforms will continue.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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