Updated 03:48 AM EDT, Tue, Sep 22, 2020

Microsoft to Explore Artificial Intelligence with SwiftKey Acquisition: What this Could Mean for the Tech Giant’s Future

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Microsoft's SwiftKey acquisition could be a sign that the tech giant will soon be dabbling into artificial intelligence.

According to the Financial Times, Microsoft paid $250 million for the acquisition of the predictive-keyboard app, which is installed on more than 300 million mobile devices.

"Our mission is to enhance interaction between people and technology," Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, co-founders of London-based SwiftKey, said in a blog post. "We believe joining Microsoft is the right next stage in our journey."

The SwiftKey app learns a user's typing style and specific vernacular and offers suggestions while you type, CNET wrote. The app has been incorporated on Android smartphones and tablets since 2010, while Apple mobile devices got theirs in 2014 when the Cupertino-based firm allowed access to third-party keyboards.

"SwiftKey's technology aligns with our vision for more personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands," Harry Shum, Microsoft's executive vice president of technology and research, said in a blog post.

The acquisition could increase Microsoft's presence in the smartphone industry, an aspect which the company didn't excel that much in, the news outlet noted. The acquisition, however, could mean something more, and is not just about vying to become users' keyboard of choice.

According to CNET, the acquisition will also focus on artificial intelligence, which is touted to be the next cutting edge form of computing. SwiftKey's app is reportedly using AI to predict people's choice of words. Currently, Google and Facebook are leading in AI research, which includes the capability of a machine, computer, or system to display human-like intelligence.

One of the goals of AI is to make machines that can observe their surroundings and accomplish a wide variety of everyday tasks commonly executed by humans, CNET wrote. Granted, intelligent robots have already been seen, but other AI applications, such as speech and handwriting recognition, fraud prevention, self-driving cars, and automatic email replies, remain as areas that can still be developed.

This was not the first time that Microsoft has dipped its foot in AI technology, the news outlet noted. For Windows 10 devices, the company created Cortana, an app which -- as what was seen on Apple's Siri and Google's Google Now services -- lets users interact with or issue commands to a device by talking to it.

Microsoft's Project Oxford artificial intelligence team has also conceived emotion-reading technology that utilizes its knowledge of facial expressions to identify particular human feelings shown in photos, CNET further reported. The technology teaches computers to recognize eight emotions: anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness, and surprise.

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