PIONEERING VIRTUAL KEYBOARD SwiftKey has announced what it is describing as its biggest update since it was acquired by Microsoft in 2016.
Swiftkey 7.0 removes the 'hub' of settings, replacing it with a toolbar for frequently used features - it's hidden behind a + symbol next to the word predictions.
Among the newness, packs of stickers will allow you to "add extra personality" to messages, with downloadable sticker packs, some of which are editable, and augmented by some Microsoft packs which are coming soon.
If you edit a sticker, you can save it for another time with the Collections feature.
US and India (but not the UK it seems) will be able to add the address of their current location directly from within SwiftKey, and if you share your Calendar with the keyboard it'll be able to add an appointment with a few button clicks.
Chris Wolfe, Principal Product Manager at SwiftKey explains: "People are using more and more GIFs, stickers and emoji, and the objective of SwiftKey 7.0 is to make these faster and easier than ever before.
"We remain committed to making regular typing as fast and easy as possible. Today's release of Toolbar, Stickers and Collections, as well as the announcement of Location and Calendar, also shows our ambition to improve users' experience of rich media. With the support of Microsoft, you can expect to see more innovations in both regular and rich media typing coming soon."
At present Microsoft Windows doesn't support alternative keyboards and there is no indication that despite Microsoft ownership, that Swiftkey is following, but it will be available for free on Android and iOS.
SwiftKey points out that its users now send two billion emoji each week, and around a third use emoji on any given day. Year on year, emoji use has gone up by a fifth, while GIF sending has gone up ten per cent in the last six months alone.
Swiftkey's success has eclipsed now erstwhile trailblazer app Swype which closed recently. µ
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