Microsoft reveals typing features in Windows Phone 8

With a number of Windows Phone 8-based smartphones now out in the wild, their owners have been constantly using the virtual keyboard included in Microsoft's latest mobile OS. Today, the company went into detail about the auto-correcting features that have been put into the keyboard.

In a blog post, Microsoft discussed Word Flow, which the company says gives Windows Phone 8 users 94 percent accuracy in terms of auto-correcting words while using the keyboard in Windows Phone 8. Microsoft said they reviewed 2.5 billion English words, including popular slang terms, and then put in about 600,000 words in the dictionary of Windows Phone 8. Microsoft claims these words work best for the corrections and suggestions that the Word Flow feature uses.

It's one thing to find and include the most common words that people will type into the keyboard. It's another for Word Flow to figure out which word would be used next when a person types a phrase out. Microsoft states:

Specifically, we look at three words of context (the fancy word for this is “trigram”) to figure out what words are best to suggest. Imagine if a user typed “I miss” and then tapped the letter “y.” Can you guess what most people are trying to type? The answer is “you,” of course, because we mostly use our phones to stay in touch with people we care about. (If you said “yodeling,” you’re in a very small minority.) Trigrams are great for common SMS phrases like “I love you”. But it also means Windows Phone knows that when you type “Harry,” you’re probably going to type “Potter” afterwards.

There's also the "fat finger" issue when a person presses down a finger that can cover more than one key on the virtual keyboard. In some situations, it could cause the wrong key to be pressed. The above video shows how Microsoft solved this problem. Basically, a key's "hit target" changes constantly as a person types with the virtual keyboard and the on board dictionary in Windows Phone 8 helps to figure out how big or small the hit target should be on each key.

Finally, the dictionary in Windows Phone 8 is also learning what a Windows Phone 8 user types into the keyboard the more he or she uses it. As a result, more accurate corrections are provided the more a person types with a Windows Phone 8 device.

Source: Windows Phone blog | Image via Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Apple starts taking security seriously, hires former Vista hacker

Next Story

YouTube redesign launches to horrible feedback

8 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Didn't Windows Phone 7 have these features? I mean, I have no doubt they were improved upon, but the button size feature I remember them discussing with Windows Phone 7 specifically.

There ain't 2.5 billion words in any language. In fact, not even in every language combined. Nice number neowin/microsoft.

I've had my 8X for about 3 weeks now and to be honest, it does have a far better keyboard than comparable devices that i do or have previously owned.

I can write quicker and with less thought on mechanical movements. Well done MS.

It's good work but these are the things that irk me about the WP7.5 keyboard, I wonder if any of them have been addressed in WP8? I've also put them on the bog too, hopefully someone will take notice. The Windows Phone uservoice website has become overcrowded.

• Editable custom dictionary.

• Option for haptic feedback on the keyboard.

• Advanced text formatting (bold / italic / underline etc).

• Option to remove the automatic space after selecting a suggested word. This is most annoying when you want to punctuate after a word using a comma, semi-colon or period.

• More Autocorrect options like change a word to Title case or upper case - that would save so much time and effort, fiddling around trying to place the cursor.

• Speaking of the cursor, ever since copy&paste was introduced, the keyboard is way too biased in favour of highlighting a whole word when you just want to place the cursor somewhere specific. Very annoying.

• When a word is misspelled, a red underline appears under the word. When I select it, very often there are no suggestions to correct it at all.

CtrlShift said,

...

• Option to remove the automatic space after selecting a suggested word. This is most annoying when you want to punctuate after a word using a comma, semi-colon or period.

• Speaking of the cursor, ever since copy&paste was introduced, the keyboard is way too biased in favour of highlighting a whole word when you just want to place the cursor somewhere specific. Very annoying.

1. Even though it makes a space after you select a suggestion, you can actually just type in the punctuation immediately (comma, period, semicolon, etc) as normal and the software will automatically backspace once and insert the punctuation. You don't have to manually hit the backspace button and then type the punctuation.

2. WP8 by default select the entire word when you select it. This is by design, and it makes sense to me. To insert the cursor between letters of a word, then you need to do a press-and-hold on the word (or anywhere in the text box). A different will then appear above your finger so you can drag it to any location even between letters.

Edited by KevinN206, Dec 7 2012, 11:29am :

Its one thing I like about my Lumia 920. Maybe Microsoft can figure out how to work it into a keyboard (maybe a small touch screen) or on a spot on the monitor if its a touch screen.