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Microsoft may launch its mobile keyboard on multiple platforms, starting with the iPhone

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Ever since Satya Nadella took charge of Microsoft, there has been a significant move from the mobile squad to launch apps on Android and iOS. Now it looks like another one of those apps is coming to iPhone — the popular Windows Phone keyboard, Word Flow.

In an email apparently sent to Insiders, Microsoft asks anyone with an iPhone 5S or newer device if they would like to try out the keyboard before it officially launches on the iOS App Store. The email also says that it will release the keyboard to other platforms in the future. It does not mention Android by name, but it’s a fairly safe assumption Google’s mobile OS is on the list.

Word Flow is a comprehensive keyboard app, which offers trace functionality for users that enjoy swiping more than typing, along with word suggestions. It also corrects misspellings, lets you input your own words to the dictionary, and learns from your language and word-usage tendencies. Microsoft gloats in the email that Word Flow was used during a world record for typing the fastest text message. It doesn’t mention this was subsequently broken again by Fleksy’s keyboard.

We don’t know a final launch date for Word Flow on iOS, but we suspect it to be available in the next few months if the beta is about to be sent out to testers. If it finally launches — there’s no guarantee at the moment — Microsoft will be in competition with the best keyboards in the business, including SwiftKey, Fleksy, and Apple’s default option. It is a big change compared to Windows Mobile, which doesn’t support third-party keyboards.

Satya Nadella’s plan for Microsoft seems less about the platform, more about getting the services to all potential users. The company has become “platform agnostic”, focused on bringing and maintaining its services on all popular platforms.

That’s good news for iPhone and Android users that enjoy Microsoft’s services, but bad news for fans of Windows Mobile that want apps to stay exclusive to the platform. We don’t know what effect porting the apps to iOS and Android will have in the long run, it might be a good promotion tool for Windows Mobile or the death of the platform due to lack of unique apps and features.

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David Curry
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