Text entry on Windows Phone may be getting a whole lot faster.
Windows Phone 8.1 could come with a new Swype-like keyboard entry method that allows users to enter text just by swiping a finger across the software keyboard on their phone’s screen, according to a report by UnleashThePhones. Screenshots published in the post show that users will be able to enable the new text entry mode by checking a box labeled “Type as I flick through letters.”
The video shows that the Windows Phone keyboard works much like other systems like Swype (which was developed in Seattle and later acquired by Nuance) and SwiftKey. Users swipe through letters, then tap on an autocomplete result that matches what they’re trying to say if the phone’s software doesn’t automatically intuit the right word. Interestingly, the new keyboard also autocompletes emoticons, so when a user types “happy,” they’re offered the ability to insert a smiley face.
It’s unclear whether Microsoft partnered with a third-party on the text entry system, or built it internally. We’ve reached out to Nuance and Microsoft for comment, and we’ll update this post as we learn more.
This could mean that Apple’s iOS will soon become the only major mobile OS to be without a system-level quick-entry keyboard. While a number of third-party developers have built individual apps with specialized keyboards like SwitfKey Note, Apple has thus far decided to keep a straight keyboard experience across all of their apps.
That decision by Apple forced Swype to develop its technology solely for Android, reducing its ability to gain market share on a wide array of mobile devices.
The new Android-like keyboard offering may have something to do with Microsoft’s plans for Google’s mobile operating system. Rumors surfaced last week claiming that Microsoft is looking into allowing Android apps on Windows Phone.
Update: Microsoft and Nuance both declined to comment on this report.