Do you ever feel like your phone's keyboard is dumb? SwiftKey has announced a new experimental keyboard that leverages the power of an artificial neural network that hopefully won't make the same old mistakes that other keyboards do. You can give it a shot right now by downloading the SwiftKey Neural Alpha from the Play Store.
An artificial neural network is a model of machine learning that attempts to replicate the functionality of a brain. It is, of course, much less complicated, but neural networks have been used to improve computer vision, speech recognition, and robotics. Now SwiftKey is using it to power a new keyboard prediction engine.
SwiftKey's current word prediction technology is called n-gram, and it gets the job done most of the time. It's not smart enough to understand the context of what you're typing, and changes in word sequence throw it off. The new neural network-based prediction engine can analyze all the words in a sentence to understand the context and relationship between words. This should mean smarter predictions.
SwiftKey is saying this is the first keyboard to ever use neural network technology, but I think all we can really say is it's the first to promote that fact. This is probably at least a little bit marketing hype, but you can give the new SwiftKey Neural Alpha keyboard a shot and see if it seems any more clever to you. One step closer to a sentient keyboard. Can't wait.