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App of The Week: Microsoft’s ‘Word Flow’ adds swipe-to-text functionality to iPhone

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 2.01.38 PMWord Flow is a fully customizable, super fast, swipe-to-text keyboard that allows iOS users to type easily and efficiently with one hand. A Microsoft Garage project, it’s meant in part to familiarize iPhone users with the Redmond company’s software.

For years, many Android keyboards have had swipe-to-text capability. While the technology itself is not new, Word Flow’s accuracy, predictive power, and Arc mode set it apart. Best of all, the Word Flow app makes the technology accessible to iOS for free.

An avid iPhone user myself, I was initially hesitant about using Word Flow, but the more I’ve used it, the more I like it. In the app itself, you can select various keyboard themes, and track your texting speed and progress. Just follow the step-by-step instructions the app provides and the keyboard becomes as easy to access as your emojis.

geekwireapp2The sleek and futuristic themes will draw you in, but the new style of texting takes some getting used to. I don’t mean to brag, but my two-thumb texting prowess is unparalleled. I can text as fast as I can type, and in a fit of rage I can probably text even faster. But once I transitioned to one-finger swipe texting, my average words per minute drastically took a hit. Frustrated but persistent, I decided to keep at it for at least three days. Eventually my texting speed increased and muscle memory made it feel natural.

Word Flow will learn your swiping style. It will adjust to your commonly used phrases, and predict your word of choice with surprising accuracy. I wasn’t able to truly witness Word Flow’s full potential until a friend who’d been swipe-texting for years gave me a lesson. I couldn’t believe how fast she texted with just one finger. There was also something inherently cool about it. It also makes things easier when you’re trying to text while carrying a bag of groceries. My friend’s expert one-finger texting was more than comparable to my two finger texting. Admittedly, she made my one-finger traditional method of texting look like 3G to her LTE.

When communicating with peers, people tend to use more unsavory language; frequently over text. I found it initially infuriating when the words “duck” and “shot” repeatedly interrupted my flow. I worried the app would refuse to except my foul language. If it came down to it, I would delete the app before I changed my ways. However, after ample correction, Word Flow got with the program. The speed with which Word Flow learned my eccentric writing style, and adjusted to it, impressed me. I now enjoy using the keyboard and three days later I was still using it.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 11.20.17 AMFinally, what sets Word Flow apart is its Arc mode. With a simple swipe, the entire keyboard shifts either to the right or left and curves accordingly, putting every key within reach. No doubt Donald Trump would benefit from such an advance in technology. Fortunately, I don’t have that problem, so I don’t rely on this feature. It could certainly come in handy though.

There is one thing I don’t like about the keyboard. If you decide not to swipe-text, a small animated ripple effect occurs after you press every key. It’s visually distracting and causes you to make more mistakes. In my opinion, the standard iPhone keyboard is much better when it comes to traditional tap-texting.

If you are an iPhone user, the app is certainly worth giving a try. Just keep in mind that practice makes perfect, and you may struggle at first. I am most comfortable with traditional texting, and although I would improve over time, I think I’m going to stick to my ways. Even though my friend was competitive with her expert swipe texting, she wasn’t able to defeat my lightning thumbs when it came to overall speed and accuracy. Nonetheless, Word Flow impressed me, and it may be the secret to your texting success.

Download Word Flow in the App Store.

Source: Geekwire Microsoft

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