With Windows Phone a failure and Windows 10 Mobile going nowhere fast, Microsoft’s newfound mission to dominate the iPhone with its own apps continues.
Microsoft’s newest app is a keyboard replacement called Word Flow. The free keyboard, currently only available in English in the U.S., is designed to make it easier to text with a single hand.
Word Flow can be used like a traditional QWERTY keyboard. Alternatively, you can text by swiping between letters to string together words and sentences quickly, a feature Swype pioneered.
But the standout feature for the keyboard is its “arc” mode; once activated, the keyboard scrunches up into an arc (for lefties and righties), which makes it easier to type with one hand, especially on larger iPhones.
Like any good phone keyboard, Word Flow comes with a predictive algorithm to anticipate your next word for faster texting. You can also customize the app’s background.
Image: screenshot: microsoft
I installed Word Flow to see if it could really speed up my texting skills. With arc mode turned on, it’s definitely easier to bang out some words with one hand on my iPhone 6. Normally, I have to use two hands to reach a decent typing speed. If you’ve never used Swype, there will be a little bit of a learning curve to adjust to the typing pattern.
The predictive AI is good, but I wouldn’t say it’s great. It didn’t seem any smarter than the iPhone’s default autocorrect.
The lack of distinct outlines for each key is reminiscent of Google’s Keyboard for Android. You’re bound to make mistakes if you’re not accustomed to this style.
Image: raymond wong/mashable
Microsoft previously released a keyboard for iPhone called the Hub Keyboard, which brings in context from different services. It, unfortunately, was not a very good keyboard. It currently has a two-star rating on the App Store with many reviews complaining about it being slow, buggy and not ready for prime time.