Microsoft’s Phrase Move keyboard app lands on iOS
Microsoft has launched a subsequent-phrase predicting keyboard as an iOS app because it seeks to faucet into the recognition of Apple’s cellular ecosystem within the hopes of increasing its affect in the cellular productiveness area.
Earlier this month the corporate had provided beta signal-ups for iOS customers nevertheless it’s now flicked the change for customers within the US. The app was initially developed for its personal smartphone platform (né Home windows Telephone), and has additionally been provided to customers of its desktop product, Home windows 10.
In addition to subsequent phrase predictions, the Phrase Circulate app presents the promise of quicker texting by way of a swipe to sort enter — a la different keyboard apps like Swype. A bit of extra novel is a one-handed typing mode which shows the keyboard as an arc to be able to permit for simpler typing by way of only a thumb. Customers also can customise the feel and appear of the Phrase Stream keyboard.
Keyboard tech was one of many methods Microsoft sought to advance the fortunes of its Home windows Telephone platform within the early years, because it battled to poach marketshare from extra dominant rivals. One cause to focus its efforts on the keyboard was that Apple initially blocked builders from providing system-vast keyboards on iOS, and was additionally arguably sluggish so as to add in additional superior options to the native iPhone keyboard leaving a niche for others to take advantage of.
Nevertheless Cupertino modified its stance on system broad keyboards with 2014’s iOS eight, opening up to outdoors builders and additionally loading extra capabilities into the native keyboard (similar to its personal subsequent phrase prediction tech). In the meantime, Microsoft’s hopes of constructing cellular marketshare momentum, and making a dent within the Android-iOS duopoly, did not materialize — leaving the desktop period platform big to double-down on constructing apps to attempt to make a serious mark in cellular.
To additional this technique, again in February Microsoft shelled out $250 million to accumulate London-based mostly keyboard maker SwiftKey, an early mover within the subsequent-phrase prediction keyboard tech area. It stated on the time that it might be integrating SwiftKey’s know-how into its present Phrase Movement tech — in addition to exploring “situations for the mixing of the core know-how throughout the breadth of our product and providers portfolio”.
Microsoft additionally stated it might proceed to supply SwiftKey’s apps, whose performance clearly overlap with its personal Phrase Move product — albeit the previous can boast moderately larger utilization. On the time of the acquisition by Redmond, SwiftKey had amassed installs on some 300 million units throughout Android, iOS and its SDK merchandise (the overwhelming majority on the Android platform).
Phrase Move shouldn’t be Microsoft’s solely keyboard providing. Its Storage division has produced one other keyboard app, referred to as Hub, which was on iOS already. However that keyboard app focuses on multitasking and productiveness for Workplace 365 customers, by letting them seek for and share paperwork from different Microsoft providers akin to OneDrive and SharePoint. Which is relatively much less fascinating than extra open productiveness keyboard performs, reminiscent of Barcelona-based mostly keyboard startup ThingThing.
Whereas messaging apps have demonstrated the power to scale out a platform on (one other’s cellular) platform, with WhatsApp, for instance, passing the one billion month-to-month lively customers mark earlier this yr, it’s far much less sure that productiveness apps like keyboards can hope to realize such scale.
Certainly, SwiftKey’s exit to Microsoft suggests there are far more durable and extra bounded margins on potential progress within the productiveness app area. (Which then fairly does beg the query why Microsoft has not targeted extra assets on driving the event and marketshare of that properly-recognized messaging app Skype that it acquired method again in 2011… Ah these Redmond goals of what-might-have-been!)