The major update for Microsoft's Word Flow keyboard that we discussed earlier in the month has arrived. Users of Apple's iOS platform using the virtual keyboard will now get a flurry of new functionality and features.
This release marks another step in Microsoft taking the fight to Google. Not just in terms of this app. The company has reinvented itself as a cross-platform developer with an array of services. Word Flow is amongst the best positioned to really give a Google service something to be worried about.
An important new addition in the update is the inclusion of information from Bing. This means users can now look up information like locations, videos, weather, through the Bing search engine. The keyboard has always been able to offer word suggestions, but this functionality adds another dimension.
Word Flow has already been warmly received on iOS. Since it was launched in the spring it has become a popular choice. It does the standard things well, such as swipe typing, suggested words, and more. However, the app has a killer feature in its one-handed typing function. This unique function lets users type with one thumb thanks to a wheel-like interface.
Apple opened the doors to third-party keyboards earlier in the year. Microsoft is already on the way to being the de facto offering for those moving away from the stock iOS board. However, Google has arrived on the scene too with Gboard.
Gboard does not go after Word Flow's quick typing capabilities. Instead, Google focused on accessibility with integrated search results within the keyboard. GIF and emoji searches were also native to Gboard at launch.
Microsoft has now rolled out version 2.0 of Word Flow to address the balance. As we revealed earlier in the month, this build introduces Bing search, including GIF and emoji search support. The Bing search feature is welcome. It allows users to look up any content on the web, like video, news, weather, and other information.
The app also interacts with the device, accessing the phone book to find contact. Microsoft has also made it easy to share with a simple tap to send feature.
Sure, Microsoft has largely aped the features on Gboard. That's not a bad thing though considering the quick typing wheel remains the standout feature. Word Flow now has an enviable feature set and some features that are not matched by rivals.
It is worth remembering that this is a Microsoft Garage project. In other words, it is not a core Microsoft service. It was created by the skunkworks division that allows Microsoft employees to collaborate on outside project.