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Predictive: Microsoft Writes £174m Cheque for SwiftKey

Microsoft has snapped up a British app that makes it easier to type on smartphones, in a sign the US-based software giant remains serious about the mobile market, despite the general flop of its Windows phones.The Windows maker is struggling to remain relevant in a global computing market that has swiftly shifted from PCs and laptops to smartphones to use the internet, and in an attempt to capture more users and keep the ones it has, the company is even currently giving its latest Windows version – 10 – away for free. The new operating system is designed for use across the range of popular mobile devices today, and so it may not be all that surprising that Microsoft is shelling out £174 million for the SwiftKey app.

Windows 10

The Windows maker is struggling to remain relevant in a global computing market that has swiftly shifted from PCs and laptops to smartphones to use the internet, and in an attempt to capture more users and keep the ones it has, the company is even currently giving its latest Windows version – 10 – away for free. The new operating system is designed for use across the range of popular mobile devices today, and so it may not be all that surprising that Microsoft is shelling out £174 million for the SwiftKey app.

SwiftKey is only eight years old – but a lifetime in the rapidly changing tech world – and is the brainchild of two graduates of Cambridge University, Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock. The pair, who stand to reap a huge financial windfall from the deal, said that in selling to Microsoft they believed they were “a perfect match” for the company and its products.

They said the idea behind SwiftKey was their view that typing on smartphones had to be made easier, instead of the then clumsy experience of pecking out words on screens, which led to lots of frustrations, and mistakes. Now, the company provides its services to top global mobile-device makers and is used by millions of people in countries around the world.

The app is available for Apple’s iOS operating system and Android, developed by Google and used by the majority of mobile manufactures to run their devices. SwiftKey said their app would continue to remain free of charge after they have been assimilated into the vast Microsoft ecosystem.

For its part, Microsoft said SwiftKey is used in over 300 million iOS and Android devices and that its technology “aligns with our vision for more personal computing experiences” – which means anticipating what someone needs, instead of just responding to inputted commands. The company added that SwiftKey had saved people from unnecessary typing almost 10 trillion times and in 100 languages.

For now, the two companies are focused on their integration plans and how the technology will become a part of Windows – developments that are due to be announced later in the year. Microsoft says it wants to pack Windows with “key apps and technologies” to make the dominant operating system more attractive to users, and no doubt to help stop the company fading away.