Microsoft is buying the company behind SwiftKey, a popular app that uses predictive technology to simplify typing on mobile keyboards.
In a blog post Wednesday, Microsoft said SwiftKey’s software keyboard and developer kit is used on more than 300 million iOS and Android devices. Microsoft will continue developing SwiftKey for those mobile operating systems.
The bigger ambition, though, is in artificial intelligence, which SwiftKey draws on to accurately predict and correct keystrokes. Tech companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. are on the prowl for academics and companies doing work in the field.
Researchers at the Alphabet unit DeepMind last week claimed a breakthrough when a program beat a champion at the game of Go. Apple recently purchased the startup Emotient Inc., which uses AI to recognize people’s emotions in facial expressions. Slack Technologies Inc. had AI on its mind with a recent hire plucked from Foursquare.