Microsoft is working on making dramatic changes to the virtual keyboard experience on Windows 10. Specifically, the company is developing new tools for the native touch keyboard. It seems the new features will be with an eye on Windows 10X but will be available for all Win10 SKUs.
Currently in development are features including new sounds, emoji access, key press animations, and the ability to search for and input animated GIFs. Yes, these changes will bring the Windows 10 virtual keyboard in line with those available on mobile devices.
The new keyboard experience is called the WonderBar and it was built for Windows 10X. If you’re unfamiliar with this SKU, it is a modular version of Windows 10 that is built for single and dual screen devices.
Microsoft’s WonderBar will also be available across Windows 10 variants and is optimized for improved typing. With a new layout, the keyboard allows users to manipulate the cursor more. This is similar to Apple’s iOS keyboard.
Development of the WonderBar is underway. Users can expect to start testing this week on the Windows Insider Dev Channel and it will be part of next year’s Windows 10 21H1 update. It is currently testing as part of Windows 10 Preview Build 20206.
Other new 21H1 features beginning testing this week are improvements to the emoji picker. Microsoft says the tool will get a Fluent Design UI overhaul. Elsewhere, Microsoft is also talking about a new dictation tool called Voice Typing.
The Windows 10 voice to text feature now has a new design, an better underlying performance, and auto-punctuation.