Microsoft releases Word Flow keyboard for iOS
Apart from powerful mobile Office applications, this company focused its efforts on providing third-party keyboards. This was due to Apple’s decision to initially block developers from reaching this part of iOS, even though Android users had this option for a very long time. With the release of iOS 8, this situation changed.
This created a new opportunity for companies and independent developers, who successfully monetized their custom iOS keyboards.
One of the most successful companies in this field is SwiftKey, with highly-advanced keyboards available on several platforms. Interestingly enough, Microsoft acquired the London-based company a couple of months ago, for $250 million. With the release of Word Flow (available on the iOS App Store; free of charge), we can finally see a reason for this decision.
The Word Flow app is a project by Microsoft’s experimental division called Garage. This division is known for innovative and thought-provoking projects, usually designed as open-ended experiments. However, these are not beta projects, even though a number of these projects have finally found their way into other, highly complex, Microsoft’s apps and services.
Upon downloading Word Flow on your iPhone, you will have to enable it by visiting your Settings app, and allowing full access (Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards). Once that is done, you can start playing around with this powerful keyboard. By visiting the accompanying app, you can customize and create your own keyboard themes.
There is a selection of preloaded ones, with high-resolution background photos. If you don’t find anything interesting, the built-in guide will help you create your own theme in just a few taps.
The most interesting feature of the Word Flow app is one-handed typing.
The so-called Arc mode can be accessed by swiping the arc icons from either side of the keyboard. This will make the keyboard morph into an arc, providing you an easy and convenient way to type using one hand. This feature should be handy to those who use larger, 5.5-inch iPhones.
Aside from the Arc mode, the Word Flow keyboard also comes with its own version of Apple’s Quick Type. This feature is designed to learn your writing style and as a result it will predict words and provide suggestions. Since it’s designed to learn your vocabulary over time, you shouldn’t expect quick results. Once that happens, you can count on much faster typing, especially when combined with the Arc mode.
Word Flow is a free download from the iOS App Store, but it is currently limited to just one region – the United States. There is no word yet on broader availability, even though it wouldn’t be surprising if other iOS App Stores start offering this application soon.