SwiftKey has unveiled a range of new features as part of its biggest update since the British smart keyboard company was bought by Microsoft two years ago.
The app is one of the most popular in online stores across the world and has been downloaded onto more than 300 million devices. SwiftKey estimates that its predictive keyboard is saving its people 20 million hours per week in reclaimed typing time.
Those users will now see a new Toolbar, an expandable menu that gives fast and easy access to a host of frequently used features. Toolbar can be found under the new “+” sign to the left of the prediction bar on both Android and iOS.
SwiftKey is also launching Stickers, a colourful way to quickly add extra expression to messages. While they can focus on anything as simple as “let’s go for a drink” or “I’m too busy at work”, users can also edit Stickers, with exclusive Microsoft packs coming soon. The launch is a response to an increase in the use of emoji and other media in messages.
Edited stickers can be saved and accessed later in Collections, another new feature which provides a place to store personalised and favourite stickers, media and edited photos. They can be used at any time and within most apps, and can be accessed via the pin icon on the new Toolbar.
“People are using more and more GIFs, stickers and emoji, and the objective of SwiftKey 7.0 is to make these faster and easier than ever before,” said Chris Wolfe, Principal Product Manager at SwiftKey. “Toolbar makes that possible, as well as offering more personalized content that SwiftKey users can store in Collections.
“We remain committed to making regular typing as fast and easy as possible. Today’s release of Toolbar, Stickers and Collections shows our ambition to improve users’ experience of rich media. With the support of Microsoft, you can expect to see more innovations in both regular and rich media typing coming soon.”
SwiftKey said 20% more emoji are being used now than 12 months ago, with its users sending more than two billion emoji every week on the platform, and a third using this method of communication on any given day. The number of GIFs being sent on SwiftKey has also continued to climb, with a 10% increase over the past six months.
Other new updates coming soon include location sharing in the US and India, which will allow users to quickly insert the address of where they are, and calendar sharing to help people insert an appointment in just a couple of taps.
SwiftKey 7.0 is just the latest in a series of updates the company has made to its platform, which is available on Android and iOS devices.
In November the company announced Photo Themes, which let users upload their own images to create a keyboard that’s unique to them.
In 2016 it launched a new system based on neural networks to suggest more relevant words that people can use in text messages as they type. As a result, SwiftKey can “capture the relationship and similarity between words”. 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 that could also be appropriate predictions instead of “airport”.
The neural network-powered technology is available in English, French, German and Spanish keyboards.
Tags: Android, emoji, gif, iOS, keyboard, microsoft, swiftkey