Word Flow, the popular Windows Phone keyboard, seems to be on its way to other phones, ncluding those that run iOS and Android operating systems. In an e-mail apparently sent to members of the companyâ€™s Insider Program, Microsoft asked users with iPhone 5s or newer devices whether they would like to try out the Word Flow keyboard before itâ€™s officially released to the iOS App Store. Previous Windows Mobile products havenâ€™t supported third-party keyboards.
Word of the beta program began to emerge over the weekend when recipients of the e-mail began sharing it via Twitter and other social media outlets. Microsoft didnâ€™t say which features of Word Flow would change, if any, when it comes to iOS.
The e-mail noted that Word Flow has long been one of the most highly praised features of the Windows Phone, and was used to break the Guinness World Record for fastest texting, a mark since broken on a phone using a Fleksy keyboard. “We are now working on extending this keyboard to other platforms, starting with iOS,” according to the e-mail.
Although Microsoft doesnâ€™t mention Android by name in the e-mail, recipients have presumed that the reference to other platforms probably means Googleâ€™s mobile operating system as well as iOS. In the two years since Satya Nadella took over as Microsoft CEO, the company has shown a greater willingness to release apps compatible with both Android and iOS, despite opposition from some users who would rather not see the company move its features to rival platforms.
Word Flow is a comprehensive keyboard app with a number of popular features. They include word suggestions, correction of misspellings, the ability for users to add words to the appâ€™s dictionary and trace functionality for users who prefer swiping to typing. It also learns from a userâ€™s language and word-usage tendencies.
No Date Yet
Recipients of the e-mail were invited to join the beta program, which lets those interested try the new software before the stable version is released on Appleâ€™s mobile platform. No date has been set for the debut of Word Flow on iOS.
The fact that a beta edition is being offered indicates that it should happen sometime in the next few months. When that occurs, Microsoft will be competing with mobile keyboard apps including SwiftKey, Fleksy, and Appleâ€™s default keyboard.
The communication from Microsoft seems to represent the companyâ€™s ongoing transition from strictly a software vendor to a software services company. Last year Microsoft released its virtual personal assistant, Cortana, to iOS and Android, after having rolling it out a a trademark feature of Windows Phone.
Microsoftâ€™s main e-mail client, Outlook, has also been included on devices running those two operating systems. Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, has been available on Android and iOS as long as the two platforms have existed.