Microsoft hit at least one aspect of Windows Phone 7 out of the park: the virtual keyboard. The virtual keyboard is one aspect that Apple has held since the release of the original iPhone, and Google has struggled to compete with. Even RIM, renown for their phenomenal BlackBerry keyboard, can’t build a virtual keyboard that is up to snuff. Then comes Windows Phone 7, and suddenly Apple has a competitor.
It’s no accident, as Microsoft points out in this month’s issue of R&D Magazine. The Windows Phone 7 product group and Microsoft Research team combined their talent, and implemented the principles of machine learning. It’s an interesting combination of mathematics and linguistics that helps to develop such an accurate text prediction service. Language has a pattern, and programming Windows Phone 7 to take advantage of that also helps to provide accurate predictions, sometimes even before you start typing the next word.
It’s an interesting look not only into the development of soft keyboards such as these, but also into the whole Microsoft bureaucratic scheme. Two totally different and almost unrelated departments had to come together to make the best possible product; if that hadn’t happened, there’s no telling how the keyboard would be.