The keyboard app was perhaps the most ignored app of all times. Did you ever hear of anyone doing somersaults for joy because a new and improved keyboard app was launched in the AppStore?
But, times are changing now. As our lives rapidly move towards a mobile based ecosystem, the keyboard has become the most widely used app ever.
Swiftkey was among the first companies to usher in a new era of keypad experience with “flow type”. A lot of other keyboard apps quickly adopted the technology and came out with their own versions of the keypad. Predictive text algorithms also got a lot better and the stock keyboards in both iOS and Android started offering that feature.
Microsoft trailing behind
The only one left behind was Microsoft (as usual). It’s not that they weren’t participating in the race; they were just crawling along at snail’s pace. But, this past February, Microsoft took a giant step forward when it bought over Swiftkey for a quarter of a billion dollars!
Another giant leap
Microsoft’s Garage Team (their experimental/developmental wing) has pushed Microsoft even further ahead in the race by launching “Hub Keyboard”. With this much talked about third party keyboard, Microsoft looks like it’s all set to take on the competition.
Hub Keyboard offers seamless integration with Microsoft Office 365. Clicking on the tiny grid on the keyboard will display a set of icons dedicated to specific functions.
- Selecting “Documents” lets you attach files from your OneDrive folder right into the conversation. (The keyboard generates a public link for your file and pastes it in the chat).
- Selecting “Clipboard” will show you a drop-down menu of the most recently copied texts.
- “Translation” lets you translate languages as you type. It’s like Google Translate integrated into your keyboard.
- Finally, “Contacts” lets you insert any contact from your phonebook in plain text format.
Watch the full video here:
With the launch of iOS 8 in 2014, iOS users could install third-party keyboards on their iPhones and iPads. However, Hub Keyboard is only available for the devices running iOS 9.1 or higher.
Swiftkey had been hugely popular with Android, but Apple had managed to keep their stock keyboard for iOS as the best option for a very long time. Can Microsoft truly develop a product that can rule the iOS ecosystem? We, for one, hope it does because a little bit of competition never hurt anyone!