Microsoft today released version 2.0 of its swipe-friendly Word Flow third-party keyboard for iOS. Now the app is a much better match for the Gboard iOS keyboard that Google released in recent months.
The new version of Word Flow lets you swipe left from the right side of the keyboard to bring up a bunch of new options. You can search for animated GIFs, images, your contacts, and the web (through Bing).
But the actual keyboard has been enhanced, too. The clearest improvement is the ability to hold your finger down, prompting the 3D Touch feature introduced in iOS 9, and then move your finger left or right to change the location of the cursor, or move it up or down to access fast-forward or rewind options to much more quickly move the cursor forward or backward. It’s possible to move the cursor left or right quickly with 3D Touch in Apple’s standard-issue iOS keyboard, but rewind and fast-forward are not available there.
The space bar is more accurate now, and you’ll see suggestions about emojis to add when you type. For example, when you type out “thumbs up,” you’ll see that emoji in the line of recommendations above the keys.
There are also new background themes to choose from. You can add your own custom theme if you’d like, just like on Google’s Gboard.
Altogether, this is indeed a major update to the app, which comes from the Microsoft Garage experiment shop inside Microsoft but is essentially an implementation of the standard keyboard on Windows Phone. It debuted on iOS in April.