SwiftKey Neural Screenshot

If you’re a big SwiftKey fan, you will have already have heard of the Neural Alpha app. The keyboard uses an intelligent AI that mimics the human brain to bring more accurate predictions.

Despite the breakthrough, SwiftKey kept the functionality to an experimental standalone app. The AI has been learning from users ever since, and it appears that Microsoft is now confident enough to implement it in the public version.

Better Predictions

I’ve been using the SwiftKey Neural Alpha since it’s release in 2005, and it’s immediately clear that the predictions are superior in every way. Suggested words take more context into account, are more accurate, and seem more natural.

In fact, I found that it’s not uncommon for it to predict whole sentences from a single word. It can be almost creepy in its accuracy, but is also far too good to go back on. Here’s an example from SwiftKey team:

“Having previously seen the phrase ‘Let’s meet at the airport’, the technology is able to infer that ‘office’ or ‘hotel’ are similar words which could also be appropriate predictions… Further, it understands that ‘Let’s meet at the airport’ has a similar sentence structure to ‘Let’s chat at the office’. This intelligence allows SwiftKey to offer you the most appropriate prediction or autocorrection based on the sentence being typed.”

To facilitate the change, SwitKey had to rebuild  the language engine from the ground up. Other than the alpha, this is the first time a smartphone has used a neural network locally.

Users of the UK and US version of SwiftKey will get the functionality automatically, but non-English speakers will have to wait. Microsoft is will add more languages soon, though, and tells users to “stay tuned.”

You can download SwiftKey from the Google Play store now, and read up on the changes on the SwiftKey blog.