Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

SwiftKey

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Covid-19
Development status  Active
Available in  150+ languages
Operating system  iOS Android
Type  Virtual keyboard
Original author(s)  Jon Reynolds and Dr Ben Medlock
Developer(s)  Swiftkey (Subsidiary of Microsoft)

SwiftKey is an input method for Android and iOS devices, such as smartphones and tablets. SwiftKey uses a blend of artificial intelligence technologies that enable it to predict the next word the user intends to type. SwiftKey learns from previous SMS messages and output predictions based on currently input text and what it has learned.

Contents

The company behind SwiftKey was founded in 2008 by Jon Reynolds, Dr Ben Medlock and Chris Hill-Scott. It employs a staff of over 160 people. Its head office is in Southwark, London, and other offices are located in San Francisco, US, and Seoul, South Korea.

In September 2013, SwiftKey announced a series B finance round totaling $17.5 million and led by Index Ventures along with Octopus Investments and Accel Partners.

In February 2016, SwiftKey was purchased by Microsoft, for $250 million.

Software

The Prediction Engine used allows SwiftKey to learn from usage and improve predictions. This feature allows the tool to improve with usage, learning from SMS, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and an RSS feed.

For Android a maximum of five languages can be used simultaneously. Currently supported languages:

Beta

SwiftKey was first released as a beta in the Android Market on 14 July 2010, supporting seven languages. It included a variety of settings to adjust audio feedback volume and length of haptic feedback vibration. It was announced on SwiftKey's official website on 15 May 2014, that a Japanese version is out on beta. People registered on SwiftKey VIP were able to download the beta version.

SwiftKey X

On 14 July 2011, SwiftKey X was released to the Android Market as an upgrade to SwiftKey. Along with new and updated features, SwiftKey X introduced a dedicated app for tablets, called SwiftKey Tablet X. The updates included:

  • a new artificial intelligence engine, to predict phrases and learn the user's writing style
  • a cloud-based personalization service, which analyzes how the user types in Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and text messages, to predict phrases in the user's style
  • a technology that continually monitors the user's typing precision and adapts the touch-sensitive area of the touch screen for each key
  • simultaneous use of multiple languages; this allows users to type in up to three languages at once, with auto-correction that is language-aware
  • split key layout on SwiftKey Tablet X, to improve thumb typing while using a larger touchscreen
  • additional language support
  • new themes
  • SwiftKey 3

    The SwiftKey 3 update was released on 21 June 2012, including:

  • Smart Space – this detects spurious or missing spaces in real time
  • enhanced user interface, with a larger space bar and smart punctuation key
  • two new themes ('Cobalt' and 'Holo')
  • additional language support
  • SwiftKey 4

    The SwiftKey 4 update was released on 20 February 2013, including:

  • SwiftKey Flow – a gesture input method with real-time predictions
  • Flow Through Space – a gesture to input whole sentences, by gliding to the spacebar
  • an enhanced prediction engine
  • additional language support, raising the total to 60
  • SwiftKey 4.2 introduced SwiftKey Cloud, allowing users to backup and sync their language behavior and software settings, plus Trending Phrases – a feature adding the phrases causing a buzz on Twitter and localized news sites
  • SwiftKey 5

    The SwiftKey 5 update was released in June 2014, including:

  • Freemium transition – the app dropped its price-tag to be free to download
  • SwiftKey Store – Theme store of free and paid-for color schemes for the app
  • Emoji – 800 emoji were added, plus Emoji Prediction feature, which learns to predict relevant emoji icons
  • Number Row (a row of number keys) option added, in response to customer requests
  • New languages, including Belarusian, Mongolian, Tatar, Uzbek and Welsh added
  • SwiftKey 6

    The SwiftKey 6 update was released in November 2015, including:

  • Double-Word Prediction which adds a new dimension to the predictions you see, predicting your next two words at once and helping you type faster than ever.
  • A redesign of the emoji panel, making it more accessible and speedy
  • A complete overhaul of the settings menu in the style of Material Design to make it easier to fine tune and customize the keyboard
  • 5 new languages added: Yoruba, Igbo, Zulu, Xhosa & Breton
  • SwiftKey for iOS

    Swiftkey released an iOS application on 30 January 2014, called Swiftkey Note, that incorporates its predictive typing technology as a custom toolbar attached to the top of the regular iOS keyboard.

    Starting with iOS 8, released in the second half of 2014, the operating system enables and support third party keyboards use. SwiftKey confirmed that it was working on a keyboard replacement app.

    SwiftKey for iPhone

    SwiftKey Keyboard for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch launched in September 2014 to coincide with the launch of Apple's iOS8 update. It was unveiled at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

    The app includes the word prediction and autocorrection features, familiar to the Android product, SwiftKey Cloud backup and sync and personalization, and a choice of color themes.

    It reached No. 1 in the free US App Store charts and the company confirmed it had been downloaded more than 1 million times on the first day of launch.

    Further development

    On 27 February 2012, the SwiftKey SDK was launched. This allows developers on multiple platforms and programming languages to access SwiftKey's core language-engine technology for their own UI or virtual keyboard.

    In June 2012, SwiftKey released a specialized version of its keyboard called SwiftKey Healthcare. It is a virtual keyboard for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices that offers next-word predictions based on real-world clinical data. In October 2012 SwiftKey Healthcare won the Appsters Award for Best Enterprise App 2012.

    In April 2016 SwiftKey released a keyboard that emulated William Shakespeare's speech called ShakeSpeak celebrating the 400th year of the author's death. The app was co-developed with VisitLondon.com to promote more tourism to the metropolitan area of London.

    Awards

    SwiftKey has received many awards, including:

  • "Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 2014 ranked 3rd place"
  • Meffy Award for life tools 2014
  • Meffy Award for mobile innovation 2013
  • Appsters Champion and Best Consumer App 2013
  • Lovie Award People's Lovie for mobile innovation 2013
  • Most Effective Mobile Application - b2c, Mobile Marketing Magazine 2010
  • Community Choice, AppCircus at DroidCon 2010
  • CTIA E-Tech Award 2011, CTIA 2011
  • Jury Award, Mobile Premier Awards 2011 Winners of AppCircus Events
  • Most Innovative App at the Global Mobile Awards, Mobile World Congress 2012
  • The People's Voice Webby Award for Experimental and Innovation 2012
  • Best Startup Business, Guardian Innovation Awards 2012
  • Coolest Tech Innovation, Europa Awards
  • Lovie Award People's Lovie for mobile innovation 2013
  • Competitors

    SwiftKey Flow is similar in concept to Chrooma, Swype, Fleksy, SwipeIt, SlideIT, TouchPal, Adaptxt, ShapeWriter, Multiling O Keyboard, Sony Gesture Input, and Android 4.2 Gesture typing, all of which also involve tracing a path over letters on a virtual keyboard. A little different approach yet still similar in concept is found in MessagEase and Minuum.

    Keyboards with optional tracing mode include HTC Touch Input, and Ultra Keyboard for Android.

    Privacy concerns

    As the SwiftKey software replaces the original keyboard on the device, any letters or words typed on it are intercepted, processed and could be transmitted over the network, thus, privacy concerns arise.

    References

    SwiftKey Wikipedia


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