Microsoft Ups Its AI Game With $250M Acquisition Of SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology

SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing, aside from the myriad of customization options, clean layout, support for numerous languages, an innovative input method, was its intelligent predictive text technology.

SwiftKey isn’t a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies and algorithms that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions and learns over time as well, by analyzing data from things like SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, and it then offers predictions based on the text being entered at the time. The end result is faster, more efficient typed communications.
swiftkey keyboards
Since its initial release, SwiftKey has been further refined and has also been ported to iOS. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. And, according to a report in the Financial Times (paywalled), Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million.

Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, who founded SwiftKey in 2008 and currently hold a large minority stake in the company, will reportedly each make upwards of $30 Million from the buyout, which should be announced this week.

What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late. In the last year or so, Microsoft has acquired the Sunrise calendar app, to-do list maker, Wunderlist, the mail app Acompli, and has been rumored to be interested in a number of others. It's possible the AI-engine and predictive technologies in SwiftKey may be leveraged for other use cases. Or perhaps the purchase is a quick way to get a Microsoft app onto hundreds of millions of devices.

As an interesting aside, SwiftKey is not available for Windows Mobile. Whether or not that changes when SwiftKey is assimilated by Microsoft remains to be seen.