Microsoft has launched yet another keyboard for the iOS platform, making it the company’s second offering in as many months for iOS. Called the Word Flow Keyboard, this app, too, is the brainchild of Microsoft’s experimental project division known as Garage.
The Word Flow keyboard boasts of a superior word prediction technology, as well as a completely redesigned “swipe” algorithm.
With both these features, the app is clearly meant to take on Swiftkey — currently the world’s best keyboard across all platforms. Swiftkey (which was acquired by Microsoft this February for $ 250 million) had also built its empire on the same two features: Word-prediction and Swipe-to-type.
The truly innovative feature of Word Flow, however, seems to be its one-handed typing mode that transforms the keyboard into an arch, fixed to the corner of the screen.
As can be seen from the picture, the app also lets users personalize the keyboard using custom background images and theme colors! Nice touch, Microsoft!
Keyboards have grown by leaps and bounds in the last half-a-decade. The native iOS keyboard isn’t the best in class, and that’s probably due to Apple’s own short sightedness. For far too long, Apple disallowed third-party keyboards on iOS. And then, in the absence of healthy competition, it grew complacent, rendering its keyboard slightly handicapped.
With iOS 8, however, things changed for the better. Apple opened its ecosystem to all developers and the results are evident to iOS users. There is a noticeable improvement in the native iOS keyboard over its past two iterations.
With these new keyboards, Microsoft hopes to match the reach and popularity of apps like Whatsapp. That sounds a bit ambitious! While it’s true that keyboards are one of the truly cross-platform apps, it’s hard to imagine one becoming a rage among users.
How far Microsoft’s keyboards will take the company is a tale that Time will tell. In the meantime, we’re just glad that we’re getting amazing apps to use. To the layperson, it really doesn’t matter who makes them as long as they are cool, right?