Microsoft snaps up AI talent with reported SwiftKey acquisition

microsoft swiftkey app free
[Updated on Feb 3, 2016: The deal has now been confirmed by Microsoft.]

London-based SwiftKey, maker of the popular third-party mobile keyboard of the same name, has reportedly been snapped up by Microsoft in a deal worth $250 million.

An official announcement on the deal is expected this week, the Financial Times said Tuesday.

Launched for Android devices in 2010, SwiftKey arrived on iOS four years later via its Note app before landing soon after as a full-fledged replacement option with the rollout of iOS 8, the first version of iOS to offer support for third-party keyboards.

SwiftKey’s popularity arose primarily out of its impressive artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that enable it to accurately predict a user’s next word or words. The software learns a user’s language habits, so the more you use it, the better it gets at predicting, which should, in theory, help you to tear through your typed text.

The FT notes that, if confirmed, the deal appears on the face of it to be further evidence of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s promised push into mobile software, and is the latest in a flurry of acquisitions that include other productivity apps such as to-do list software Wunderlist, and calendar app Sunrise.

Besides adding to its stable of mobile apps, it appears the computer giant is also focused on acquiring the talent behind the SwiftKey software. The AI experts recently announced SwiftKey Neural Alpha, another mobile keyboard that takes predictive text to a whole new level using complex machine learning techniques never before seen on a smartphone. You can find out more about the new app here.

Where Microsoft goes from here with its apparent newly acquired startup, we’ll just have to wait and see. What is clear is that the big hitters are getting into AI in a big way. An unnamed person claiming to have information on the deal told the FT there’s currently “a war for talent in artificial intelligence,” with companies like Google and Microsoft sniffing around for the best AI experts.

Recent AI acquisitions by Google include three British startups – Vision Factory, Dark Blue Labs, and DeepMind Technologies, which reportedly cost the Mountain View company $400m.

Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Mobile

Text messages are disappearing on Pixel 3s, but a fix is on the way

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are arguably the best Android phones out there right now -- but they aren't perfect. Users have reported a number of issues and problems related to the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Here's how to fix them.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Product Review

Glas may be gorgeous, but this spendy thermostat is no smarter than the rest

A stunning OLED screen tops the prettiest thermostat we’ve reviewed in years. But GLAS lacks the brains required to justify its premium price. Read more about it in our full review.
Mobile

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Mobile

Leak shows a third, budget Google Pixel 3 with a Snapdragon 670, headphone jack

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a third. A budget Pixel 3 device that boasts some of the best features of the other two has been leaked.
Mobile

Use multiple phone numbers on one device with Verizon’s ‘My Numbers’ app

For those who have separate phone numbers and devices for your work and personal lives, Verizon wants to help you get more organized. With its new "My Numbers" app, you can use up to four additional phone numbers on a single smartphone.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Mobile

How to use recovery mode to fix your Android phone or tablet

If you’re having a problem you can’t seem to resolve with your Android device, or maybe you want to update it or wipe the cache, recovery mode could be what you’re looking for. Here's how to use it.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Mobile

How to choose the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone or tablet

If you need some extra storage space and your device supports it, then a MicroSD card is an obvious place to start. Here, we look at what to consider and suggest some of the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone.
Mobile

Common Kindle Fire problems, and how to fix them

Is your Amazon tablet giving you grief? Is it refusing to behave the way you expect? Take a deep breath -- everything will be fine. Here are some widely reported Kindle Fire problems and a few possible solutions to go with them.
Mobile

Barnes & Noble’s new Nook tablet now has its own keyboard cover and dock

Barnes & Noble recently launched its largest mobile device to date, the Nook Tablet 10.1. Now the company has released a couple of accessories designed exclusively for the new Nook: A keyboard cover and a charging dock.