SwiftKey has launched a new experimental version of its popular mobile keyboard app, one that could significantly improve the accuracy of predictive typing.
The SwiftKey Neural Alpha app is an Android-only affair for now and, as its name suggests, it’s still an early stage product so may be prone to bugs. But it’s for this reason that the London-based company elected to launch a separate, standalone app rather than integrate the features into its existing flagship app.
If you’re new to SwiftKey, the app has developed a solid reputation on Android for a number of years, replacing the default keyboard app on phones and tablets. It learns your writing style over time to speed up typing, and even predicts the next word before you’ve started typing it — this is partly based on historical patterns.
The new SwiftKey Neural app uses artificial neural networks (ANNs) to predict and correct language. ANNs represent part of the broader field of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and is more directly based on the structure and workings of the human brain. This is in contrast to SwiftKey’s existing n-gram model, which relates to probability and computational linguistics.
“It gives the ability for Swiftkey to predict and suggest words in a way that’s more meaningful and more like how language is actually used by people,” said SwiftKey chief marketing officer (CMO) Joe Braidwood in an interview with VentureBeat.
Though it’s early days, this signals a notable step forward for mobile typing, and could lead to more meaningful, context-specific suggestions. Here’s a look at some examples of how the neural incarnation of SwiftKey can improve the app’s ability to second-guess what you want to type.
Though this represents the first times such technology has been implemented in keyboard app, Google recently dabbled with neural networks in an update to the Google Translate app.