Tuesday 11 December 2012

Microsoft unveils the secret of the Windows Phone 8 keyboard

The one feature of the Windows Phone that has been widely appreciated is the accuracy of its keyboard. Microsoft, in a blog post has revealed how they made the Windows Phone 8 keyboard more intuitive and accurate than its predecessor.

Microsoft has introduced a new feature called ‘Word Flow,’ an improved and renamed version if the Quick Correct feature from Windows Phone 7.5 that ‘helps prevent time-wasting typos and focus on what matters: communicating with the people you care about.’

The blog says that the average person makes a typographical error in about one in every three words they type out on their phones. Microsoft hence decided to make their keyboards more intuitive to words and conversations. “Word Flow is designed to reflect how real people talk to each other—and so it knows everything from pop culture to slang,” read the blog.

Microsoft reportedly sifted through 2.5 billion English Words in order to build Word Flow. Finally, about 600,000 most common words and phrases were chosen to be put in the conversation sensitive dictionary of the Windows Phone 8 keyboard.

The company claims that the Windows Phone’s auto-correction skills are around 94% accurate out of the box and the keyboard keeps learning from the user's writing habits, making it predict better. “The Office team has been researching commonly-used words for more than 20 years to power similar features in Word and Outlook, and they partnered with us to build our first dictionaries in Windows Phone 7. Office uses a variety of sources—from linguistic research to frequency analysis of documents, books, and web pages—to build their dictionaries,” says the blog. For example, if a user types in h-a-p-p, the keyboard could suggest ‘happen’ or ‘happy.’ But, Microsoft says, since ‘happy’ is used more often than ‘happen,’ the keyboard will predict ‘happy.’

The blog says that it has designed the keyboard to also solve the ‘fat finger problem’ that most users face. Smaller displays lead to fingers covering more than one letter tiles, thus leading to typos in messages. “The solution we use in Windows Phone is to change each key’s invisible “hit target”—the touch-sensitive area around each letter—as you type. When your finger touches a hit target, that letter is inserted. Hit targets are constantly changing size, depending on what word the keyboard thinks you’re trying to type,” said Microsoft, while explaining it further in a video.

Meanwhile Nokia has launched an affordable Windows 8 phone, the Lumia 620, thus stamping their authority on the budget phone bracket. Nokia claims that Lumia 620's body uses a new dual-shot colour technique to deliver a variety of colour and texture effects. Dual-shot adds a second layer of coloured, transparent or translucent polycarbonate on top of a base layer to produce secondary colour blends and depth effects. One can add a personal feel to the handset as there are seven different exchangeable shells to choose from. The Nokia Lumia 620 is powered by Qualcomm's SnapdragonS4 Plus processors.

The Nokia Lumia 620 will be available in a range of colours including, lime green, orange, magenta, yellow, cyan, white and black. Priced at USD 249, which roughly translates to approximately Rs 13,600, excluding taxes and subsidies, the Nokia Lumia 620 will begin selling in January 2013 in Asia, followed closely by Europe and the Middle East before expanding further.

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