Swiftkey announced a new keyboard app today, its first major app since it was acquired by Microsoft in February. It is a keyboard app dubbed Swiftmoji, and despite what the name suggests, it is not a Taylor Swift-themed sticker pack.
The new app simplifies the painstaking process of finding the perfect emoji for every message. After a user types a word, phrase, or sentence, Swiftmoji suggests a variety of emoji related to whatever was typed. For instance, typing “pizza” yields a pizza, an Italian flag, and what Unicode fittingly calls “face savoring delicious food.”
Swiftmoji is available on both Android and iOS, with slightly different functionality for each operating system. On Android devices, suggestions appear as an added row on top of the stock keyboard. The experience is not quite so seamless on iOS, as restrictions on third-party keyboards require users to tap the globe icon and open an entirely separate Swiftmoji keyboard to access the emoji.
Swiftkey is not the only company trying to bring automatic emoji pairing to our devices
While emoji prediction is still a relatively unexplored category, Swiftkey is not the only company trying to bring automatic emoji pairing to our devices. Apple plans to integrate similar features into the stock keyboard on iOS 10, and the original Swiftkey keyboard has offered emoji predictions since 2014. Similarly, Google’s Gboard allows users to search for emoji related to specific terms.
Swiftmoji is not Microsoft’s only multi-platform keyboard option. Aside from standard Swiftkey and Swiftmoji, the company’s experimental Garage group released the Hub keyboard in early April, followed soon after by the Word Flow keyboard.
Swiftmoji crowdsources its suggestions based on data from the Swiftkey keyboard, and tweaks individual recommendations based on which emoji each user frequently uses. While Swiftkey has encouraged users to report offensive recommendations, crowdsourcing still opens the possibility for insensitive or confusing suggestions as TechCrunch notes in its review:
While typing the word ‘feminists’ included the crying tears of laugher face, the sleeping face, the unimpressed face, the rolling eyes face, the hmm/thinking emoji and the medical mask face among the predictions. So, on aggregate, a rather negative visual assessment.
Based on the results for “The Verge,” Swiftmoji clearly has some work to do to: