A good software company is inventing new roles for itself all the time, looking to connect with users wherever it can and deliver the software solutions they need. Recently we’ve seen Microsoft really stepping up its efforts with keyboard apps, delivering its shortcut-laden Hub Keyboard for both Android and iOS platforms. But the Hub Keyboard hasn’t been the only Microsoft software keyboard we’ve been hearing about this year, and back in January we got an early look at what Microsoft was working on in terms of bringing Windows Phone’s Word Flow keyboard to iOS – including a convenient one-handed mode. Now we receive word that beta testing of Word Flow for iOS has finally begun, and get a peek at that one-handed “Arc mode.”
The private invite-only beta Word Flow keyboard uses advanced text prediction and error correction, helps auto-complete names of Contacts stored on the phone, supports swipe input (shape writing), and allows user customization in the form of replaceable background images.
Maybe most impressive, though is the Arc mode, which lets users choose left- or right-handed operation and curves the entire keyboard around their thumb’s position.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is still very much a beta release, and despite those nice-sounding features, testers report being a little less than impressed with Microsoft’s effort, preferring the stock iOS keyboard (or even the native WP keyboard on that platform) over Word Flow for iOS. Still, Microsoft has plenty of time to tighten things up, and we may be looking at a whole new typing experience by the time the app makes its public debut.