Mobile Apps

​Microsoft's SwiftKey brings artificial intelligence to your phone keyboard

Neural network technology means the keyboard gets better at predicting what you're about to type and correcting what you already did, the company says.

SwiftKey's AI-augmented keyboard app better predict what you might type by looking at more words you already have.

SwiftKey's AI-augmented keyboard app better predicts what you might type by looking at more words you already have.

Microsoft SwiftKey

Artificial intelligence today can organize your iPhone photos, answer your Gmail, endow drones with vision and decode human speech. And with Microsoft's newest SwiftKey keyboard app, AI will guess what you're about to type next, too.

On Thursday, Microsoft released a new version of its SwiftKey for Android that includes an AI technology called a neural network to try to improve its performance. Neural networks are related to human brains, with many interconnected neurons, but to be useful, they must be trained in advance using lots of carefully constructed real-world data.

"For example, having previously seen the phrase 'Let's meet at the airport,' the technology is able to infer that 'office' or 'hotel' are similar words which could also be appropriate predictions in place of 'airport,'" SwiftKey said in a blog post. "Further, it understands that 'Let's meet at the airport' has a similar sentence structure to 'Let's chat at the office.' This intelligence allows SwiftKey to offer you the most appropriate prediction or autocorrection based on the sentence being typed."

Predicting words may not sound like a big deal, but we spend more and more time using our phones to type Facebook posts, emails and text messages. The better our phones compensate for the shortcomings of their tiny keyboards, either through text prediction or better guesses at what we're dictating to them, the more we'll use them and the less frustrated we'll be.

So far, the AI-augmented version of SwiftKey is only available for English speakers, either in the US or UK, the company said.