SwiftKey already has one of the best mobile keyboard replacement apps for text prediction, but the company isn’t stopping there. SwiftyKey Neural Alpha launches today as part of the SwiftKey Greenhouse, which uses neural networks to bring text prediction to a whole new level.
Neural networks is a subfield of artificial intelligence that is inspired by the structure and operation of the human brain. This means that SwiftKey Neural can make strong predictions based on the relationship between the words being typed rather than just past history. The current SwiftKey app leverages N-gram technology to predict words based on common phrases and those learned from your past messages and emails.
This technology allows SwiftKey Neural to predict words that were never used in a particular sentence context during the learning phase. So for example, if you had previously typed, “Let’s meet at the movies,” the current version of SwiftKey would automatically predict “movies” after you type, “Let’s meet at the,” but the use of machine learning from SwiftKey’s neural model understands that “office” or “hotel” could also be an appropriate prediction in place of “movies.”
Taking this one step further, this intelligence can also utilize similar sentences from your past messages to better predict words. “Let’s meet at the movies” is also very similar to “Let’s chat at home.” Knowing this similarity allows SwiftKey to also predict “home” when you have typed “Let’s meet at.”
This type of neural network language model has previously been available only on large servers, and this is the first time that something like this has been designed to work on a smartphone or tablet. And this is only the beginning because as SwiftKey continues to work with these models, it’s likely the smartphone keyboard will change even more dramatically. It’s more than likely that, in time, your keyboard will be able to predict an entire sentence.
SwiftKey Neural is now available for Android devices, which you can download at the SwiftKey Greenhouse page. It’s a separate app from the current SwiftKey app, and it’s considered to be in the alpha stage. The alpha stage is before beta, meaning that it’s obviously not yet ready for prime time — but it is ready to provide an early example of this cool new technology in action. More importantly, you will be participating on the ground floor of something that is going to be pretty significant over the next few years.