Thanks to leaks from the developer version of Windows Phone 8.1, we’ve seen an avalanche of leaks about new features coming to Microsoft’s mobile phone operating system. Now another leak indicates that Microsoft is preparing to introduce a Swype-like gesture keyboard with the upcoming update.
A single screenshot showcasing what’s believed to be this new Windows Phone keyboard was sent to WMPowerUser yesterday. The keyboard in the screenshot looks remarkably similar to the keyboard included in versions of Windows Phone already. In fact, the only difference is that there seems to be a line indicating where the user dragged his finger to spell out ‘hello’.
Unfortunately, the site says that it was sent the screenshot by an anonymous source and it hasn’t had a great track record with Windows Phone leaks in the past. That being said, The Verge’s Tom Warren indicated that Microsoft was planning to add such a keyboard in Windows Phone 8.1 in comments made on that site. He does have a proven track record of providing accurate information about Microsoft’s plans for Windows Phone.
The addition of a gesture based keyboard could be another win for Microsoft’s strategy of taking the middle ground with Windows Phone. While Apple locks iOS users into its own core experiences, Microsoft has tended to build a core experience and then allow developers to add more feature on top of that core experience. For example, Windows Phone 8 has a core Camera app, however users can add another app as the default Camera. Whether Microsoft will allow users to set a new default keyboard remains unclear though. For comparison, users can change their keyboard by downloading another from the Google Play Store.
Many Android users enjoy being able to simply swipe their finger across the keyboard to spell out words. The theory is that not having to left their finger makes keyboards like Swype more ideal. Of course, that theory only makes sense if the dictionary the keyboard is using accurately figures out the word the user is trying to spell.
Swype competitor SwiftKey is also available to Google users.
Microsoft is expected to talk about Windows Phone 8.1 at this year’s Mobile World Congress later this month. It isn’t expected to detail all of the features users can expect from Windows Phone 8.1 until its BUILD event in April.
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