But we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re often asked: “What’s the biggest challenge you face as a business?” Competition? Growing too fast? Financing? You’d be surprised, but it’s none of the above.
The answer is complacency. It’s people accepting the hand they’re dealt. It’s failing to challenge the status quo. We know very well that typing on many smartphones and tablets isn’t good enough. People tell us it sucks, but most of them don’t think to demand better.
That’s why it was great at I/O yesterday to see a commitment from Google to take the typing experience on Android seriously. From version 4.1 (Jelly Bean), the stock keyboard will try to predict a user’s next word as they type.
This is good news for users. In a recent survey that we ran with over 17,000 smartphone owners, the stock Android typing experience was rated at only 5.9 out of 10, compared to 7.4 on iOS or 8.8 with SwiftKey.
It’s also good news for us. Google’s commitment supports the vision we had two years ago when we launched the world’s first keyboard that learns from you to predict your next word. Since then, we’ve been working flat out to assemble a cluster of other incredible innovations that, when bundled together, create the world’s easiest, most accurate and most powerful way to type on a touchscreen.
Watch this space, SwiftKey is only just getting started.Joe Braidwood is SwiftKey’s Chief Marketing Officer.
It’s time. After months of work and refinement by our team of developers, we are proud to officially unveil SwiftKey 3. It learns how you think to type what you mean. It’s the best keyboard we’ve ever made and we’re extremely proud to share it with you.
It goes on sale today on Google Play and Amazon Appstore, where for a week it will be half price at $1.99 / £1.49 / €1.99. For our loyal users who bought SwiftKey X, SwiftKey 3 will be rolled out as a free update.
This version is a major leap forward. SwiftKey 3 was created thanks to the extensive creative and technical work of our team, but was refined and polished by the input of our VIP forum community. They got their hands on our beta releases first and the fact the number of VIPs more than doubled during the beta phase, from 30,000 in April to over 65,000 today, illustrates how much interest there is in what we’ve been building.
The VIPs suggested a range of features they wanted to see – a larger spacebar, for example – and voted on a new theme, the Ice Cream Sandwich-style ‘Holo’. They also kept us informed of bugs and errors and provided invaluable feedback across nearly 10 weeks and three beta releases.
Today the rest of SwiftKey’s users can access SwiftKey 3 for the first time. Here’s what’s new:
- Smart Space – adding to SwiftKey’s already cutting edge correction, Smart Space detects mistyped or omitted spaces across strings of sloppily typed words in real-time.
- Two new themes – a new theme, ‘Cobalt’, to match SwiftKey’s new look and feel, and an Ice Cream Sandwich-styled ‘Holo’ theme, as voted for by SwiftKey’s VIP community.
- An enhanced UI – a much larger space bar and smart punctuation key help improve accuracy and make it quick and easy to access common punctuation.
- Additional languages – SwiftKey 3 now offers support for an additional seven languages, bringing the total up to 42. The new languages are Korean, Estonian, Farsi, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian and Serbian.
Since launching the beta, we’ve taken feedback on board to include:
- A dedicated comma key, and the <123> key in the bottom-left corner.
- Refined the Smart Punctuation pop-up for better, easier use.
- Improved Smart Space functionality for easier email addresses and URL entry.
- Reduced lag on some devices for a more responsive experience.
- Reintroduced the long-press duration setting by popular request.
- Further improved prediction algorithms for even more accurate next word suggestions.
- Updated gestures for easier shortcuts.
This isn’t our only big news today. We’re also launching SwiftKey Healthcare. This is a bespoke product for doctors, nurses and other health professionals to enable them to take faster and more accurate notes on their tablets. We’ve signed deals with four companies already and a further dozen are undertaking trials. Stats from our first customers show clinicians halved the amount of time they spent typing on average.
These new products show SwiftKey is growing bigger and bolder. We’re now more than 50-strong. We have more people using our technology than ever. And our hunger to innovate is as great as ever.
SwiftKey 3 is a leap forward but it isn’t the end. We’re going to get straight back on it, creating even bigger features to change the way you interact with phones and tablets. Watch this space.
Chief Marketing Officer
p.s. if you haven’t already, check this out:
Stephen Fry – actor, writer, presenter, technology evangelist, SwiftKey fan – visited our London offices yesterday to share some of his wisdom about innovation and creativity.
We discovered Stephen was a user of the app by chance when we were one of the companies he praised in an in-depth blog post about mobile. What he wrote made it clear he got it and understood not only what’s cool about what we do, but why we do it. That has led to a friendship we’re deeply grateful for as his appetite for people and ideas knows no bounds.
The team took the opportunity to show him some fun stuff – the rough-round-the-edges innovations the developers plug away at on monthly innovation days – to show some of the ways advanced computer science can be applied to make life better, simpler or just plain sillier. (Don’t worry – these are ideas we plan to share with you soon too.)
His words had a genuine impact, partly because he uses language in a unique, mind-boggling and inspiring way, but also because of what he shared with us.
The highlight of his varied career? People, not specific projects: “The good fortune I’ve had to meet extraordinary people.” The people who’ve most left their mark on him? The hugely influential writers Douglas Adams and Christopher Hitchens, and Apple legend Steve Jobs – all masters of their trade who died far too young.
Stephen said he believes SwiftKey has been successful because the business is underpinned by “something that is passionate and human-shaped” rather than a plan to get rich quick. He described the “real sense of achievement” that can only come from watching people find value, joy or entertainment from something you’ve helped create.
“You know it’s only the beginning, the start,” he said, warning us the business would only fail if we became “a***holes” who covet yachts and share dividends.
“It’s a creative company, you’re the luckiest people in the world, you’ve got the best jobs,” he told us. And yep, we remembered why once again. Thanks Stephen.
The three lucky winners of a brand new smartphone or tablet of their choice can finally be revealed. We asked you to fill out a short survey in return for a chance to win and over 17,000 of you responded.
Congratulations to Christine O from Kansas, US; Pradeep R M from Maharashtra, India and Gary C from Victoria, Australia who were all selected in the prize draw.
We’re busy crunching the survey data and will share some of the results with you soon. In the meantime, here’s what our winners had to say when they found out they were set to become the proud owners of new gadgets.
Christine chose an iPad 3 as her prize but says she’s a “devoted user” of SwiftKey on her smartphone as it helps her stay down with the kids.
“I work as a middle school counselor,” she said. “SwiftKey allows me to keep up with my students and text almost as fast as they do. Winning this has me thrilled to pieces! Thank you so much for a quality product that just continues to get better and better and for this amazingly generous prize.”
Gary opted for a Samsung Galaxy S3. “At first I couldn’t believe that I was one of the lucky three who’d won… I’m absolutely ‘over the moon’ about it!” he told us afterwards.
“Since switching to the intuitive SwiftKey on my tablet and phone, I’ve found that effective communication is so much easier with its predictive texts and it cleverly learns from me through connection to my Gmail, Twitter and Facebook accounts – magic!”
Pradeep, who asked for an iPhone 4S, said it was of real importance to him to be able to communicate quickly and easily. He explained: “Typing is one of the regular things that I do, especially while messaging which I do a minimum of 30-80 times day.”
But he says the challenge remains for all touchscreens to be as easy to write on as qwerty physical keyboards. We think we’ve cracked it with SwiftKey, do you?
There’s a lot of excitement at SwiftKey HQ this morning, as we discover that we’ve been featured on our favourite webcomic: XKCD. We’re thrilled to count Randall Munroe among our fans, and we’d be intrigued to know what his default sentence really is…
Join in the conversation by letting us know what SwiftKey predicts for you when you press the central prediction key. (Hint: if it’s “God save the Queen” you probably still have the Queen’s English language model enabled.) Tweet to us on @SwiftKey or add your comments below.
Our language experts have created a fun little treat for you to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee weekend – a limited edition version that allows you to text like Her Majesty.
We used our artificial intelligence software to analyse Queen Elizabeth II’s speeches to enable you to add a regal touch when you type. The English (Queen’s) language model is available to SwiftKey X and SwiftKey Tablet X users, as well as users of the new SwiftKey 3 Beta.
Our language research uncovered the most distinctive words and phrases used by the Monarch since ascending to the throne in 1952.
You can join us in celebrating the Jubilee by using the new Queen’s language setting for SwiftKey to type the most regal sentence you can think of – what do you believe the Monarch would write? On Twitter, use the hashtag #QueenTweet to tell @SwiftKey what the app predicts for you. Or, join the conversation on our Facebook page.
Here are our top three tips for how to sound like The Queen when you type:
- Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to drop all your ‘I’s’ for ‘One’s’. Her Majesty uses “I” nearly six times more than “One”;
- Make “My Government will” your most common phrase;
- Do not use colloquial abbreviations. According to the analysis, Her Majesty rarely uses contractions – for example, ‘It’s’ is used just nine times, ‘it is’ is used 208 times; ‘Do not’ is used three times as many times as ‘don’t'; ‘Can’t’, ‘won’t’ and ‘weren’t’ are not used once.
“Recently there’s been a lot of focus on the King’s Speech, so we thought it was only fair to devote attention to Queen Elizabeth II, who has after all now reigned for 45 years longer than her father,” SwiftKey’s Head of Language, Dr. Caroline Gasperin explained.
“The research we conducted meant combing through the words the Queen has used in her speeches and building a personalised language model. Our software learns how individuals type over time, which means it can accurately predict what they’re likely to say next. Interestingly, the most common 20 phrases used by The Queen do not match the phrases most used by the general public. To celebrate the Jubilee weekend, our new Queen’s English language model can help you adopt her distinctive tone.”
The top 10 most used word sequences across Her Majesty’s digitised archives reveal her favourite topics are her husband Prince Philip, her Government and her subjects.
- “My Government will” – uttered 217 times
- “Men and women” – 144 times
- “The United Kingdom” – 139 times
- “Prince Philip and” – 135 times
- “Will continue to” – 123 times
- “Be introduced to” – 119 times
- “Will be introduced” – 118 times
- “It is easy” – 113 times
- “The Commonwealth” – 111 times
- “Philip and I” – 101 times
The Queen’s language also reveals that she has an optimistic frame of mind with “confident”, “delighted”, “glad” and “pleased” uttered 125 times more than her famous “annus horribilis”, expressed just once in her 1992 address following the Windsor Castle fire and revelations about her sons’ private lives.
You, our users, have saved 60 billion keystrokes in total since we launched – and it seems Her Majesty could also benefit, saving 46 per cent of her keystrokes if she’d used the standard English setting on our app when she wrote her speeches.
Happy typing this Jubilee weekend from all at SwiftKey!
PS Rest assured, creating this language model did not detract from the time spent developing the other products and services we produce.
Update Our CTO Dr Ben Medlock has been invited onto the BBC World Service to talk about our Queen’s English language model – you can listen to it here.
Here’s how to find the Queen’s English language model:
- From SwiftKey go to Settings > Languages and Layouts
- Hit the menu button and choose “Update Languages”
- Scroll down to find English (Queen’s) and tap to download
- When downloaded, English (Queen’s) will appear at the top of the page with your other downloaded languages
- To get the best, most regal predictions, disable all language models apart from English (Queen’s)
- Go back and write something, you will now be writing with predictions based on the Queen’s English and your own personal language model
- To write using only the Queen’s English, clear your personal language data by going to Settings > Personalization and choosing “Clear language data”.
- To re-learn your personal writing style after the Jubilee personalise using your sent SMSs, Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, Gmail emails and/or your blog posts.