Microsoft-owned mobile keyboard company SwiftKey has announced a new translation feature in its Android app, one that leverages Microsoft Translator to convert your mobile messages into more than 60 languages.
For the uninitiated, SwiftKey is a popular keyboard app for smartphones that enables users to type more quickly on touchscreens — it learns your writing style over time to serve up “next word” suggestions, and you can swipe your finger from key-to-key with SwiftKey predicting what word you wish to type. Using neural networks, it can also understand context to suggest which word you may wish to use next.
Now, whatever app you’re in, be it email, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp, SwiftKey will automatically convert your words into your desired language as you type. And crucially, this works two-way, so it will convert both outgoing and incoming messages.
Moreover, if you install the Microsoft Translator app on your device, you can also use this functionality offline.
Microsoft snapped up SwiftKey for a reported $250 million nearly three years ago, and though a number of updates have landed in the app in the intervening months, the first biggie came in March this year when SwiftKey 7.0 arrived on the scene with a new expandable toolbar that served up easy access to GIFs, stickers, and more. Today’s update arguably trumps that, however.
Microsoft Translator has offered real-time textual translation smarts in Windows and Skype for a while, while it offers real-time voice translation through Skype too. But a mobile phone keyboard is typically the most used app on a smartphone, so placing instant translations at your fingertips is a big advance for SwiftKey.
More importantly, this update also brings SwiftKey in line with Google’s Gboard, which has offered similar functionality for some time.