Artificial intelligence technology being developed by SwiftKey could eventually write whole sentences, or maybe even whole emails, for you.
A new experimental keyboard app has gone live on Android today that uses neural networks to predict what word you’ll want to type next, and it’s a significant step forward from SwiftKey’s current ‘smart’ keyboard.
The current ‘N-gram’ generation of SwiftKey technology looks at the frequency with which you use certain strings of words to help you type faster. By comparison, SwiftKey Neural looks at ‘clusters’ of words to infer the rough meaning of your sentence.
That means that it knows that ‘Let’s meet at the’ might be followed by a place like ‘office’ or ‘airport. My own standard SwiftKey app thinks ‘Let’s meet at the moment’ is the most likely sentence I wanted to type, as it only goes off things I’ve typed in the past and ‘at the moment’ is something I often type.
The company says that while neural networks tend to be deployed on larger servers, this is the first time language modeling like this has been built into a keyboard and run locally on a smartphone.
The current version of SwiftKey Neural is in alpha and is very barebones. You can’t sync it with your SwiftKey account, so there’s no personalization. Still, it’s worth a try to experience the possible future of typing. It won’t always recommend a smarter set of words than the current main app, but there’ll be a real ‘ooh’ moment when it does if you’re a regular user of the company’s keyboards.
I interviewed SwiftKey CTO Ben Medlock onstage at the recent Re.Work Deep Learning Summit in London and he discussed the company’s research into neural networks. He said that eventually he wants the technology to be able to write (for example) a whole email reply. They’re a long way away from that now, but it could get there as the technology gets better at inferring meaning and intent from data it’s provided with.
SwiftKey Neural is a free download and available now from the company’s Greenhouse page.