Microsoft's recently acquired SwiftKey keyboard app has scored an update today. The service is now better at handling multiple languages and has a couple of new features. This update furthers SwiftKey's neural networks technology to introduce more language capability for the third party keyboard.
Last month, SwiftKey updated its service on Android to include machine learning called “neural networks”. The feature has actually been available as a standalone app for around 10 years. In that time it has been learning users habits to understand how text is formed.
Microsoft has since rolled this out to the public Android app. The idea is the neural networks feature can understand context and predict language more accurately.
Since last month, the app was limited to English when using neural networks. However, SwiftKey has now added compatibility for Spanish, French, and German. This opens the service up to millions more potential customers.
SwiftKey has been among the most popular third-party virtual keyboards for years. The company was enjoying solid growth, prompting Microsoft to purchase it for $250 million in February. It was a good acquisition for Microsoft, despite its own virtual keyboard aspirations like Word Flow.
Last month, SwiftKey's co-founder explained why the company decided to sell to Microsoft.
“There comes a point when every startup founder does some soul-searching and asks the question: What is it that I actually want out of this”
Medlock was the original author of the keyboard, along with Jon Reynolds. Speaking at the Re.Work Deep Learning Summit, he said that the focus of SwiftKey was to help people type. Medlock says there was no desire to run a multi-tiered company.
“We started out just wanting to solve this problem of helping people to type,” explained Medlock. “But we were very clear that we never wanted to run a sort of… maintenance business. We were only interested in carrying on if we could see that we were growing and exploring new ideas.”