How Windows Phone 8's Word Flow Improves Autocorrect

By Wesley Fenlon

Microsoft's great virtual keyboard gets better with smarter autocorrect software.

For all of its issues, Windows Phone 7 got one thing absolutely right: the keyboard. Microsoft was proud of the touch keyboard on its mobile platform, and went into detail explaining how research into language patterns created a smart virtual keyboard. In Windows Phone 8 they've only made the keyboard smarter, as detailed in a new Windows Phone Blog post.

Windows Phone 8 adds a library of 600,000 of the most common words in the English language to power its auto-correct feature Word Flow. Microsoft brags it's 94 percent accurate from the get-go, and will only get better as it learns the words you use most often. The blog post also touts the importance of context in its dictionary. It doesn't just contain a list of the most commonwords, since autocorrect would likely butcher each and every sentence in a text message when it springs into action.

Photo Credit: Jim Merithew/Wired via Creative Commons.

Microsoft brought in the Office team to include data about the frequency of those commonly used words, which helps the keyboard decide which words should be suggested first, second and so on. The phone will look at three words for context before making a recommendation--Microsoft calls this a trigram--and the dictionary is designed to watch out for the kinds of common phrases and slang common to casual speech.

The dictionary's real-world language knowledge came from a few solid sources: Windows Phone users who let Microsoft collect anonymous typing data from their phones, Twitter, and Wikipedia. Microsoft bots crawled the latter two sources, searching for widely used phrases and pop culture elements. So if you're looking to write about Obama or Harry Potter, Windows Phone 8 has you covered. Try to text your friends about your Samurai Pizza Cats DVDs, though, and you'll probably just leave the dictionary's trigram search utterly bewildered.

Lead photo courtesy via Creative Commons