Microsoft buys SwiftKey, says iOS and Android keyboard apps will continue

Microsoft plans to integrate predictive technology with its own Word Flow software and other products.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director on

SwiftKey's keyboard is built on natural language processing and artificial intelligence technology.

Image: SwiftKey

Microsoft has confirmed it is buying predictive keyboard technology company SwiftKey for a reported £250m, and will keep developing the iOS and Android versions of the app, as well as integrating the software with its own.

SwiftKey's eponymous keyboard app uses an algorithm, built by analysing huge amounts of text, to predict what you are trying to type, and what you will want to type next. SwiftKey estimates that its users have saved nearly 10 trillion keystrokes, across 100 languages, saving more than 100,000 years in combined typing time by using its predictive technology.

The SwiftKey software keyboard and SDK-powered services are used on more than 300 million Android and iOS devices. The app launched on Android in 2010 (it was the best-selling paid app on Google Play in 2012 and 2013) and arrived on iOS less than two years ago with iOS 8 and is now a freemium app. The company also makes money from smartphone makers which use the technology in their keyboards, all of which has made SwiftKey one of the hottest startups to come out of London for some time.

The deal isn't just about the keyboard: SwiftKey is built on the sort of natural language processing and artificial intelligence smarts that big companies like Microsoft are extremely keen to have in house. Both SwiftKey and Microsoft emphasised that the Android and iPhone apps would continue to exist.

Harry Shum, Microsoft's executive vice president of technology, said the company will continue to develop SwiftKey's keyboard apps for Android and iOS, as well as explore options for integrating the core technology with other Microsoft products.

Shum said the company will provide more details of how SwiftKey's technology will be integrated with its own Word Flow technology for Windows "in the coming months" and said the deal "further demonstrates Microsoft's desire to bring key apps and technologies to platforms from Windows to Android to iOS".

"Moreover, SwiftKey's predictive technology aligns with Microsoft's investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user's behalf and under their control," he added.

SwiftKey founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock said that joining Microsoft "is the right next stage in our journey" and said SwiftKey's apps "will continue to be available on Android and iOS, for free. We are as committed as ever to improving them in new and innovative ways".

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