SwiftKey is one of the most successful apps out there, with over a billion downloads, it’s by far the most used keyboard for the Android system. Today, they announced a new installment for the application, with the new Neural Alpha keyboard, that guesses what you mean to write and provides suggestions on the spot.
For the ones who already use the application, this sounds like what the SwiftKey already offers, but unlike the “n-gram” (the technology used in the current version) that only provides suggestions based on what it learned from previous examples, the new “Neural Net” suggests possible words related to what you’re saying, even if you never wrote them before. It works by understanding the sentences context, providing surprisingly intelligence-like suggestions, with “a more human touch”, the company says.
“Through machine learning based on enormous amounts of language data, SwiftKey’s neural model is able to meaningfully capture the relationship between words. It understands word similarity, allowing it to compare words on the fly. Within the neural model, words can be visualized in ‘clusters’, located at varying degrees of proximity to one another.” – SwiftKey
These kind of applications fall all in the category of “machine learning”, like Googles’ Knowledge graph, that understands the relationships between people, places, and things to better your search results and even providing you with more interesting advertisements. With this, even two people making the same search will get different results.
This kind of technology, however, usually is only used in huge servers or networks with a lot of resources to utilize. The launch of this keyboard marks a huge leap for this technology, since it’s the first time anything like it is released for handheld devices.
SwiftKey was the first keyboard to try to predict your next words, and combined with the inclusion of the 3 words bar, it was the first keyboard to be really accepted by the average user. It’s a company that’s looking ahead and will still try to develop more features for its products. “Rather than solely predicting your next word, we’re working hard on building a framework for the keyboard of tomorrow.” according to the company’s blog post. One can start imagining a keyboard that guesses complete sentences based on the information collected by the “Neural Net”.
Check out the chart below to see the main differences between the current technology and the new “Neural Net”.