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Microsoft buys SwiftKey keyboard app

UPDATE: Both Microsoft and SwiftKey have now confirmed the acquisition.

“We’re excited to announce an important milestone on SwiftKey’s journey. As of today, we have agreed to join the Microsoft family,” reads a statement on the SwiftKey blog.

“We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio,” says Microsoft.

“Moreover, SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control.”

Original story: Microsoft has reportedly purchased the popular SwiftKey keyboard app – but not for the reason you might be thinking.

The American software giant has apparently agreed to purchase the British keyboard app maker for $250 million, or around £174 million.

SwiftKey became famous as one of the prominent third party alternative keyboards for the Android platform. It also brought its predictive keyboard technology to iOS as soon as third party party keyboard support became possible in 2014.

SwiftKey is not available for Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile, neither of which support third party keyboards. However, it seems Microsoft isn’t purchasing SwiftKey simply to bolster its own virtual keyboard work.

Rather, it’s the aforementioned predictive technology that has proved so appealing to Microsoft, according to The Financial Times. Or rather, it’s the AI behind that predictive technology that’s of interest.

There has been a general grab for the best AI talent from Silicon Valley in recent years, and SwiftKey represents another chapter in that scramble.

The deal also represents the latest in a spate of mobile productivity apps snapped up by Microsoft of late. SwiftKey joins Acompli, Wunderlist, and Sunrise on the Microsoft acquisition roster of the last year or so.

Related: Best Android apps

The $250 million allegedly being paid represents one of the biggest UK tech acquisitions of recent times. According to the report, SwiftKey’s two founders, Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, stand to make upwards of $30 million (£21 million) each from the deal.

SwiftKey itself has some 150 employees in London, San Francisco and Seoul, many of which are expected to join Microsoft Research.

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