Microsoft Wednesday US time confirmed that it will acquire SwiftKey, a London-based company that makes smart prediction technology for easier mobile typing.
Microsoft did not disclose how much it spent for SwiftKey; but according to a report by the Financial Times the company paid around US$250 million.
SwiftKey is best known for its software keyboard and software development kit, which the company says powers more than 300 million Android and iOS devices. The company’s app learns users’ unique writing styles and offers suggestions as they type on their mobile devices.
But beyond the company’s benefits for mobile devices, it also touts artificial intelligence technology to predict users’ word choices. SwiftKey contains a tool called Greenhouse that features an array of experimental Android apps - including SwiftKey Neural, a keyboard that uses artificial neural networks to predict language.
These artificial intelligence capabilities, which Microsoft has utilised before with its Windows 10 digital assistant, Cortana, could help with varying applications, including speech recognition, automatic email replies and fraud prevention.
In addition to artificial intelligence capabilities, Microsoft’s acquisition of SwiftKey will help in its push to provide software and services on multiple mobile platforms, including iOS and Android.
Harry Shum, executive vice president of technology and research at Microsoft, stressed that SwiftKey “aligns with our vision for more personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands”.
“[Swiftkey] directly supports our ambition to reinvent productivity by leveraging the intelligent cloud,” said Shum in a blog post.
“This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms. We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio.”
Microsoft has continued to extend its services over various platforms, mainly through acquisitions.
In 2014, Microsoft acquired email startup Accompli, which it eventually rebranded into its Outlook for iOS and Android platforms. In February last year, the company acquired Sunrise, a calendar app also for the iOS and Android platforms.