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SwiftKey is already the best-selling Android keyboard and the fifth-ranked Google Play app by revenue. Now the “artificially intelligent keyboard” has raised $17.5 million to get even smarter, and to grow even bigger.
Apparently, there’s still a lot to learn.
“Smartphones and tablets are revolutionizing the way we communicate – but there’s still so much potential for innovation and we’re determined to lead the transformation of this space,” CEO Jon Reynolds said. “This … enables us to aggressively pursue that vision, breaking new ground with our world-class language technology.”
SwiftKey works by predicting not only what word you’re trying to spell on your sometimes-clumsy virtual keyboard, but also what word you’re going to type next, with intelligent predictive awareness. That transforms “thisidfabtasic” to “this is fantastic,” and a narcissistic phrase such as “I am a beautiful …” gets the next word suggestion “person.” Now, with $17.5 million in new funding, SwiftKey is further invest in natural language processing and machine learning.
The goal is to get even better at knowing what you want to say before you say it, so you use fewer taps and communicate faster. By the middle of last year, SwiftKey had estimated that it saved users 65 billion keystrokes by “reading your mind to make typing faster.”
That number is now much higher as the company is still the global leader in aftermarket keyboards, and also has licensing agreements with major device makers, including — and especially — the Android king, Samsung. SwiftKey grew revenues 500 percent year-over-year, the company announced today.
The funding round was led by Index Ventures, and follows SwiftKey’s first funding round, back in 2011, of $2.4 million. The lead investor from that initial round, Octopus Investments, also participated in this round.
As part of the funding, the London-based SwiftKey is “committing” to rapid expansion in North America, and CEO Reynolds is moving to San Francisco. SwiftKey also has an office in Seoul.
“As a huge global commercial hit, SwiftKey’s world-beating technology and astonishing growth rate means the team is now perfectly positioned to take the US market by storm,” Index Ventures’ partner Martin Mignot said. “We see every indication that they will succeed in a very big way.”