Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has confirmed it has acquired the London-based predictive keyboard app maker SwiftKey in a deal worth $250 million. The keyboard app that relies on artificial intelligence-based predictive analytical abilities has already seen more than 300 million downloads on Android and iOS devices. The app isn’t available on Windows right now though that might change soon once Microsoft takes full control over the company.
For Microsoft, SwiftKey marks the latest in a string of such acquisitions which includes the email app Acompli, the calendar app Sunrise and Wunderlist that offered the to-do-list software. The acquisitions are also in line with the new found Microsoft strategy of bolstering its presence in the mobile segment by acquiring key productivity apps.
As part of Microsoft’s efforts on this front, the company is also reported to be developing the iOS version of its award-winning Word Flow keyboard. The biggest draw with Word Flow for iOS – as has been revealed thanks to a leak – is the unique arrangement of the keys that fan out radially from either the bottom left or right edge allowing for easy thumb typing.
CEO Satya Nadella has spelt out the company vision of being a software developer and services provider even though Microsoft has ventured into the hardware segment as well. However, while hardware continues to be among the focus area, the chief executive has stated the priorities for Microsoft will always be the software side of it.
That said, the Redmond company has quite some work to do on the mobile front. Moreover, the biggest bane here is the lack of enough apps to add to the appeal of Windows 10 Mobile. Acquiring SwiftKey can be considered a smart move towards that goal. Negotiations for the takeover were going on for several months; it is learnt.
SwfitKey relies on usage pattern to predict the next word that is likely to be typed, which extends to even slangs or nick names that the user makes use of in most of the cases. The app also comes with a smart autocorrect feature as well. All of this has earned the app the top slot in both the Android and Apple app stores a few years ago.
Experts also believe the AI engine the SwiftKey relies on can be adapted to other applications as well, including gaming.
SwiftKey announced last year that its Android version is now able to converse in more than 100 languages, with some as diverse as Arabic, Icelandic and Welsh to several Chinese and Indian dialects as well.
The company was set up by Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock in 2008 and employs around 150 staff in London, San Francisco and Seol.