Microsoft has just updated its Word Flow for iPhone keyboard to Version 2.0 and Apple owners can now update or download the keyboard. Word Flow for iPhone originated from Microsoft Garage, which is Microsoft’s experimental projects think tank.
Breaking news: Google releases Gboard for Android
This fast type keyboard comes with Bing Search built in, meaning that iPhone owners will never need to navigate to a separate app to search for and share information. The Bing Search takes place within the keyboard itself and search results appear in a horizontal carousel.
The search and share features however are not limited to Bing Search. It is possible, from within the keyboard, to find GIFs, images, emoji, restaurants, hotels and more. Word Flow users can find contacts when they need to share a phone number or email address or look up news, videos, weather forecasts and other facts.
The system employed isn’t simply a search and select system. Predictions of share worthy content, such as GIFs, appear as the user types. This holds true for contacts with contact prediction. Content that is used and shared remains in the keyboard’s history, so that it can be quickly and easily shared again.
The intuitive Word Flow for iPhone keyboard uses many of the innovations seen on other keyboards, such as predictive word selection and correction, next word suggestion and improved next word predictions, as the keyboard learns the words that the user types most often.
This iPhone keyboard has free custom backgrounds and keyboard themes, an Arc mode for one-handed use, which has been improved for more accuracy, particularly around the space bar and offers cursor placement with 3D Touch.
|3D Touch features|
Microsoft’s Word Flow keyboard also works with one of Apple’s best features. iOS Text Replacement, formerly called Keyboard Shortcuts, is now supported.
The system allows iOS users to set text shortcuts that when typed, automatically replace themselves with a preset sentence. For example, the shortcut ‘jwl’ could be used to enter the sentence ‘I just left work and will be home shortly’.
With iOS Text Replacement it is best to avoid common terms or phrases such as ‘like’. If a common phrases is set as a shortcut then auto-correction pops-up a bubble, to allow the writer to revert back to the original word typed, instead of keeping the automatically inserted phrase.
iOS Text Replacement was first featured on iOS 9 and has been integrated into apps like Reminders, Messages, Safari, Mail, Calendar, Gmail and Twitter.
|iOS 9 tips & tricks|
There are a number of different keyboard apps that had already integrated search within them. iPhone owners may want to consider these if they prefer to use Google Search, while we also highlight here a keyboard for Android users, that includes search.
GBoard keyboard for iPhone
The GBoard keyboard for iPhone is available globally and this has Google Search built in. This will reduce app switching significantly with search for GIFs, GIF suggestions while typing and emoji.
Google Search features, in this case, are shown when the ‘G’ Google logo is tapped and the keyboard also features Glide Typing, themes and backgrounds. An Android version of GBoard was never created, probably because the focus was to get Apple owners using Google Search.
Slash Keyboard for Android
Android owner’s need not feel left out though as the the Slash Keyboard, available for free in the Google Play Store, offers a free alternative.
Once again, many of the same features are offered and even expanded upon. Search inside the keyboard puts many apps at the fingertips such as Contacts, Foursquare, Google Search, Maps, Recent, Spotify, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube and more.
Slash Keyboard users can find Tweets and Facebook photos, for easy sharing by selecting the associated icon, that is shown in the keyboard pop-up. Alternatively, the writer can type a slash ‘/’ for custom and extended options. For example, typing /Google opens a Google Search window within the keyboard.
Written by: Michael Brown