Microsoft is acquiring Swiftkey, the company behind a popular iOS and Android keyboard application by the same name. The two companies have in the last few minutes confirmed the news that had been widely speculated for the better part of the last 24 hours.
According to the Financial Times, Microsoft will pay $250 million to push the deal through.
Swiftkey’s product, the Swiftkey keyboard application, rose to prominence on Android for its very accurate prediction algorithms that made it easier for users to input text. Its prediction technology has since been licensed by various OEMs like Samsung to power their own keyboard apps. When Apple opened up iOS to third-party keyboard developers in 2014 with the release of iOS 8, Swiftkey keyboard was one of the most anticipated on the platform and went on to become a resounding success.
Swiftkey boasts of over 300 million installs on both Android and iOS. Thanks to its famed prediction technology, Swiftkey estimates that it has saved its users over 100,000 years worth of typing time or 10 trillion keystrokes.
It is thought that Microsoft is interested in the AI (artificial intelligence) behind Swiftkey’s products. Swiftkey’s latest project, Swiftkey Neural, is a keyboard app that uses artificial neural networks to predict and correct what users are typing. It is the biggest public demonstration of what the company’s AI tech is capable of.
The Swiftkey team had also been engaged in some other projects through its Swiftkey Greenhouse experimental program. Some of those projects include another keyboard, Clarity and an Android launcher, Hexy.
According to both companies, Swiftkey will continue developing and maintaining its Android and iOS applications.
Microsoft has in the recent past also acquired several companies behind other Android applications. Accompli, which has since been rebranded to Outlook, a popular Android email application, was acquired by Microsoft back in 2014 for over $200 million. To-do application Wunderlist was acquired mid last year by Microsoft for an undisclosed amount. 2015 had started with Redmond acquiring another Android app, Sunrise, the popular calendar application which has since been folded into email app Outlook.
Recent leaks suggest that Microsoft is working on a new version of its Windows Phone Word Flow keyboard for iOS and Android with a unique one-handed mode. Will that be the first place where we see Swiftkey keyboard’s underlying tech at work?