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SwiftKey updated with new 'Toolbar' for quick access to GIFs, emoji and clipboard text

Microsoft on Thursday released an update to its SwiftKey predictive keyboard app for iOS and Android, adding a number of enhancements including the Toolbar, an expandable menu that sits atop the keyboard for easy access to frequently used features.




The Toolbar, available in SwiftKey version 7.0, can be found under a new "+" sign on the left hand side of the text prediction bar, and provides users quick access to GIFs, emoji characters and text copied to the iOS clipboard.

Tapping on emoji, for example, provides a sampling of characters based on what is being typed in the prediction bar. Users can also search for or browse a selection of embeddable GIFs, while clipboard integration allows for insertion of copied text or the copying of custom clips.

Android users get a few more Toolbar options that will be released soon including location sharing which will allow users in the U.S. and India to insert their current location into an app. Calendar sharing is also coming to Google's operating system, granting quick access to upcoming appointments and saved dates. Whether those functions are being planned for iOS remains unknown.

In addition to Toolbar, SwiftKey gets a new option to place stickers into a variety of apps. Microsoft is working to roll out sticker packs in the near future.

SwiftKey was purchased by Microsoft in 2016 for a reported $250 million as part of a thrust into AI. Dubbed as the world's first neural network keyboard, SwiftKey applies a specialized database to continuously monitored user input to return personalized next-word predictions, a method said to be more accurate than rival keyboards that rely on pattern recognition.

Apple initially opened iOS up to third-party keyboards with iOS 8 in 2014. Since then, a number of developers have attempted to produce a better, faster and more reliable keyboard than stock iOS, though many have failed. Among the most popular is Google's GBoard, which integrates GIFs, emojis, so-called Glide Typing and Google search.

SwiftKey for iOS is a free 115.4MB download from the iOS App Store.