SwiftKey has announced that it is now a part of Microsoft. Microsoft has reportedly acquired the app for $250 million. “Our mission is to enhance interaction between people and technology,” co-founders of SwiftKey Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock wrote in a memo announcing the deal.
The SwiftKey team will become part of Microsoft Research, led by Harry Shum. With the acquisition, Microsoft plans to integrate SwiftKey’s technology with its own Word Flow keyboard. Microsoft already has a great smartphone keyboard in the form of Word Flow keyboard on Windows Phone, and is already working on bringing the same to iOS and Android later this year. It will be interesting to see if both the apps co-exist, or whether Microsoft simply renames SwiftKey to Word Flow.
But the most interesting piece of this deal is centered on artificial intelligence(AI). The machine learning capabilities that power SwiftKey’s “predictive” keyboard can be used in myriad ways. Tech industry giants have long known about the potential of AI, but the proliferation of mobile devices and the so-called Internet of things have given AI a place to make an impact (in ways as subtle as making your intended typed word appear) and rapidly improve them, thanks to all the data generated by such connected devices.
Microsoft has been acquiring all great apps to deploy its own services on other platforms. It acquired Acompli which was re branded as Outlook on iOS, and it later bought Sunrise which used to be the number one calendar app on Apple’s iOS.