Microsoft’s new Word Flow keyboard sets world record for speed, supports 16 languages initially

Last week, Microsoft finally unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 to the world. One of the subtle new features was the Word Flow keyboard, which brings ‘shape writing’ to the mix, in addition to the familiar ‘touch typing’ for text input. Developed by Microsoft Research, the technology behind Word Flow is completely unique to Redmond, being proprietary technology and building off of the already excellent auto-complete feature. Heck, it now even predicts emoji for you too.

We demoed the new keyboard in our hands-on video but now it’s been confirmed to be the fastest in the world. In a video posted by Microsoft Research a few days ago – and lost in our shuffle – Word Flow can certainly hold its own as it was used to set the world record for fastest keyboard by a 15-year old named Gaurav Sharma.

The winning entry typed is exactly 160 characters and proves to be quite the thumb twister:

“The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”

Yikes. The time it took to type was just 18.44 seconds, beating the old record by 20.53 milliseconds. Both of those numbers are quite impressive in their own right, as typing those two sentences would be challenging under any circumstances. Make sure you watch the above video to see it happen.

Tim Paek, senior researcher at Microsoft, describes the benefits of Word Flow:

“Instead of tapping every single letter, you’re drawing a line that connects all the letters of the word you’re trying to write. When you continuously draw that line, you are defining a shape. Eventually, you stop thinking about the letters altogether and develop muscle memory for that shape.”

In using the keyboard extensively, we have to admit that Word Flow is the real deal. It requires little to no learning, and it doesn’t even have to be enabled as you can dynamically switch between touch typing and Word Flow according to your whims. That’s a winning combination and lessens the demand for third party alternatives. 

Likewise, we can now confirm that Word Flow will launch on Windows Phone 8.1 in 16 languages, including:

  • English (India); English (United Kingdom); English (United States)
  • Hindi (Latin); Polish; Portuguese (Brazil); Russian; Spanish (Mexico); Spanish (Spain); Finnish; French (France); German; Arabic (Saudi Arabia); Italian; Turkish; Dutch (Netherlands)

Language localization is always problematic, leaving some groups of people left out. We’re glad to see Microsoft coming out the gate though with more than just English (US), ensuring that 8.1 hits its stride in its biggest markets when released.

What do you think of Word Flow? Are you a touch typist or someone looking for a new way to bang out those text messages?

Source: Microsoft Research


Reader comments

Microsoft’s new Word Flow keyboard sets world record for speed, supports 16 languages initially



Never knew so many Dutch people were around. ps. I'm Dutch too!


Hope Cortana or maybe even siri will be translated in Dutch someday.

When I saw the title of the article first thing I did was scroll down to check if Dutch was supported, but I noticed the comment first :D

Pois é, faz alguns anos que a Microsoft escolheu o pt-br como variação oficial do Português.

Já esperava isso quando li o título da notícia. =)


If you check the other languages that are mentioned, you will notice they have bracketed the country and not the script.

That's right. Hindi written using English script is supported with autocorrect and wordflow, where as Hindi written using Devanagiri script is not support yet.

Stop showing your ignorance.
Hindi in Latin means in Latin script. Latin script is the one in which all this text is being displayed. So if i say "Hindi Latin" it means for example "kya haal hai". Means you'd be able to use wordflow for Hindi words too.

It would be nice if they could at least get the spell checker/auto correct to work properly in English! lol

I think you are correct. Can someone confirm this? I saw in the video that it beat the world record "of 20.53ms".

That isn't 8 seconds but that figure also makes no sense. I think it is supposed to say "world record of 20.53 SECONDS", and Daniel Rubino meant to write "of 20.53 seconds" instead of "by 20.53 milliseconds" because he goes on to acknowledge that both times are fast, when only citing one actual recorded time.

Daniel can you chime in here?

I think joe belfiore claimed this in his keynote as well if I remember correctly. He mightve been talking about something else maybe

I'm not sure how any of this is constructive. If you're suggesting we shouldn't post something because you already know about it, I'm going to have to disagree. This isn't a race and for a large percentage of our audience, this is news and that is what counts.

Some people feel the need to show off that they are 'better informed than WPC. Its a slightly pathetic, "Little Brother" kind of compliment.

This was definitely news to me.  Thanks for posting it.  I'm going to share this video to local news outlets to ignore because it doesn't fit their paradigm.

The best goalkeeper misses one goal and people poke and keep poking him about it all his life. Yesterday Yuvraj Singh (in Cricket) didn't perform well in World Cup Final, and the critics forgot that he was the sole reason why we won World Cup 2007/2011. Yuvraj (name means Crowned Prince) ignores them ;)

I get 99%of my WP news from this place..Most of u too..Credit goes to Daniel and his team..And disrespecting them..I consider that a sin..If u got the news earlier an from some place else then be happy an sit quite..

Exactly, I don't necessarily care who has info first I am not going to search for every tech website on the Internet any WP news of I can go to a few trusted sources for news and other updates I am interested in reading.

I am very platform agnostic and I own Android and Apple products in addition to my Nokia 925 which is why I read WP Central, Andriod Central and iMore Mobile Nations sites daily.  

The Verge and ZDNET are okay for tech news as long as you overlook some platform bias tendencies from some of the editors/reviewers.  

Yes, this news update was necessary. Not everyone saw build2014. When someone search it, they will be landed here. Its better for SEO.

Well this is the first I've heard of it so all of you "We landed on the moon!" morons can shut your holes.

Thanks Daniel. Some of us don't have time to play on the internet 24/7 so I appreciate the "old" news updates.

You dont make any point, seems you are struggling in true sense, not just your username!! lol 

No one said its a race, i just said i read it before. So please don't think we are trying to show off or something, wpcentral is a place where you get legit news because they care to confirm it from other sources but they are slow.

You don't have to care about me bro. I just commented what i felt. I think I have the freedom to do so. And i meant no disrespect to Daniel.... With due respect.....:)

Instinct bro....:) Do you want me to delete it ??? I think Dan has taken it in that spirit. That's why he replied to my comment. Never meant any kind of offence or disrespect. Never thought it will become an issue as well.....:(

Ah Daniel, Hindi has got nothing to do with latin. You might want to change that. Or is it something im not getting?

You're not getting that most languages with native non-Latin alphabets also have Latin equivalents for people and systems that can't handle the native forms.

I saw this report in many other websites first than here in WPCentral. Just wondering why WPCentral is slow in covering WP news...? It's supposedly to be the first source to go to... Am I wrong? Or is my expectations too high?

Because they verify sources and information before posting it, instead of just throwing up every rumor and "report" they see posted online. Its caled journalism. Something most Tech blogs are missing.

Very right! I notice the difference in journalism and blogging when i compare wpc and wmpoweriser for example. Wm just posts whatever is the official word, no explanation, no self found details. Just bare facts. Thier app reviews, they're just the developer's words and app descriptions.
But WPC is different, and very much better ! Its professional ! :)
Keep on going on !

I absolutely agree with you. 100%. What I love about this site is the amount of correct information posted and debunk rumors. And perhaps I admit my expectations for this exceptional outstanding site is high. However, as part and parcel of journalism is the time it takes to cover the story. Maybe my enthusiasm for this site is so high, I want them to be the first to cover everything windows phone. Really appreciate what Daniel and the others are doing, I am sure it is not easy... I have lots of respect for all of them... Peace :)

You are not wrong. It's just that WPC always has better confirmation sources than others. At least they don't post anything. And official confirmations takes time.

So they need to post every little tidbit instantly, or else it's not news? Geez. Well done writing and interesting topics is more valuable than speed, imo. That's why I come here.

I didn't hear the news before, I only follow WPCentral for my WP news, so I appreciate the article whenever it comes

Για την ώρα μπορεί όχι, αλλά στο μέλλον ποτέ δε ξέρεις.

btw αν έχεις Nokia lumia μη βάλεις το developer preview γιατί χάνεις αυτόματα την εγγύηση.

Because of its existence much before any other languages,The epics like Ramayana & Mahabharata were written around 24K & 14K years old in Sanskrit when in rest of the world still the sign language was used.....You gotta learn about it to believe it....even proved as the good medium of language for coding.

That's true. I've heard Sanskrit being used as coding language in computers, somewhere in NASA.

P.S: I know Sanskrit to some extent.

Truth is, it can never get obscure. Sanskrit is much more than the spoken tongue. It basically defines cosmic order. Its the nature of all that exists and all that is not. Even though not many speak Sanskrit natively, it is the basis of sound and speech. This is precisely the reason why modern AI research is all for using Sanskrit as a means to program intelligence. A thorough understanding of Vedic scriptures will make it clear. :)

Greek is not the mother of all languages obviously .I think it's sanskrit but that is not relevant . Greece is a small market so it is not priority . I really want that word flow though :(

Sorry for you men, can't believe they managed to support Russian which came out of Greek (and much more complex an difficult to implement!), but didn't do that for Greek. Wish you all get it soon.

I live in Sweden as well, how many windows phones do you really see compared to android and ios? Fully understand

do hope they get swedish support soon...first question swedes ask is about support in swedish.  hard to tell people to get an OS that doesnt support their language.  but do think MSFT has these plans for sweden...

Everyone i try to enlist for WP complains about something, isent it an app then its something else.
And that Swedish support for new cool features dosent come to us will not encourage others to change to WP if they allready have that similar Swedish feature on their other device.

I wonder were the problem lies? Is it Microsoft in Sweden or Microsoft generaly?
I guess its an cost issue.

must say that my mom had an issue with her surface and took it to msft store in stockholm and the person had no idea of how to use it.  while this was like 6 or 7 months ago, they did have them in stock and the person literally had no clue of how to use.  painful!

Actually, just around me I see at least 5 new people with a Lumia every time I'm in town. And almost everyone close to me has the 920 or 800. Here in Eskilstuna it seems to be quite popular with WindowsPhone.

That sounds GREAT!
I live in a small society "Dorotea" 3000 persons, and I guess I represent the only WP user :)

If you look at language support for various technologies from MS, you see that Sweden is always in tier 2. That is actually quite good for a country as small as ours. MS doesn't have Swedish speech recognition officially released yet, so that needs to be fixed before we can get Cortana.

The hold up lies in the fact that they probably try to placate the most users at first and then fill in the gaps. Just how larger cities get the most live concerts vs small towns and cellular companies build networks that cover the most people at first and then build out the rest as they go. Just as app developers leave Windows Phone users waiting...

Sweden, as great a country as it may be unfortunately does not make up the "meat" of the Windows Phone userbase. Though you may have to wait, keep making noise and they will roll out to you, probably in a more stable, complete manner than the early localities.

No Danish either.. Guess they are still mad at us for pillaging and raping them back in the day.. :P

I live in Brazil, it's a big country in my opinion. The WP is the second OS here and we will not get cortana probably for a year... At least the keyboard...

dpiranda, acredito que o Cortana chegue para nós mais cedo do que imaginamos.

Vendo umas notícias por aí, fuçando na internet vi relatos de que ela pode vir em Português (Brasil) já  na firmware Nokia Cyan.

This is one of my favorite new features. I hate typing each letter on my phone. Also, why don't they do anything about the landscape mode keyboard? The huge empty spaces around it is kind of dumb.

Once again, I think we fessed up to that. Considering this wasn't exactly "breaking" news, I'm not regretting this fact. Regardless, the list of language is certainly new and actually more pertinent to our readership.

What about a complete review or other bits and pieces like multitasking,maps and music apps etc.

2nd; did they get around to fixing multitasking? how about app resumes? I gather the latter is up to developers...

There's a reason why we're given time to review an OS and have embargoes. I really, really, really, need your folks to have some patience here. I understand you need to know, but there's a reason why there are no complete reviews just yet. 

I want to get the developer review and find out new things myself. That way things will be more exciting.

Disappointed that it took this long to see a comment like this since it's an instance where it makes perfect sense to post!

If you install the dev preview on your lumia (if you have lumia) you're losing your phone's warranty.

Are you kidding me, i talked with Nokia support and they told me this: 

Rose (17:11:31)
As I checked, it is possible that the warranty will be voided. Like previously, when the GDR3 preview was released, those who participated in the GDR3 preview, has voided the warranty.

And when i asked why is this happening, they told me this:

Rose (17:14:38)
The reason behind this is because, it is not officially released. It will only be official and authorised only if the Lumia Cyan is included.



I've checked with Nokia too, they told me exactly the opposite. Because the update comes directly from Microsoft, it doesn't void the warranty.

How come I got my Lumia repaired (Camera button was not functioning properly) for free from the Nokia Service store when I have a Dev Unlocked phone with pre-update installed?

Yes but then when official update arrives for your particular phone and carrier and you install it isn't the warranty available once again because you have "official" update?

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

By the way, ditching my android when this update comes, partly because if this keyboard;)

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

What Android device do you have? You can use Swype or the default Android keyboard or whatever default keyboard the OEM has built in that has gesture typing OR some gesture keyboard from the Play Store.

Android isn't missing out on gesture typing and I am sure that eventually, someone will code their keyboard to recognize emoticons.

Since you said partly, what is the other part that is causing you to leave your Android phone?

It doesn't void your warrenty, i participated in gdr3 and my device is still in warranty. For confirmation i visited to nokia care and they checked my device and give me assurance that i m under warrenty.

Using moto x and very familiar with android and gesture typing. Ditched my lumia for android last fall and pleasantly surprised after two years on WP. One of the reasons I will be returning to WP is the new keyboard and notification center among other things. Oh and quiet hours and separate volume, been waiting so long for those specific things like so many other people.

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

is Hinglish like writing Hindi but with English letters ?
if so then there is new language it's called Arablish :D
all over the arab world we write arabic using Latin alphabet.

You got it right! ;)

Hinglish is just writing Hindi with English alphabets. Wow people use these "-lish" codes outside India too!

I guess there should be other countries too! :P

EDIT: yes, its in other countries like the other guy commenting below, "Ponglish"

Yup, Actually Hindi (Latin) means Hinglish support, for example: "kya kar raha hai bay" :)

Actually most of the time I feel jealous when a friend of mine buys a Lumia. I love Nokia's WPs and I feel very proud to own one but with the influx of the 520, I feel lost in the crowd. Previously when I first bought the 510, people used to point out that "Look, that's a Lumia!". That doesn't happen any more. Don't know whether I should be happy or sad.

I understand your feeling! :)

Once I also thought that way, but when I realized the problems we were facing due to "low market share of WPs", I thuoght it's more important than my personal impression to boost the WP market, be it on my individual basis. So started recommending to my friends! :P

Yep, you should be happy seeing the evergrowing opportunities we are making for WPs here in India.

I hope MS finally fixed the Slovenian keyboard in 8.1. In WP8, characters that don't exist in the language have their own keys, whereas characters that do exist are relegated to long presses or two-key combinations! What the hell?!

I know, no real support here as I tweeted about it and all I got is a chance to put it on forums of windows phone features.. there should be feedback in language+keyboard section

Seconded! But too bad.. Nokia Lumia phones are always released a bit late in Indonesia compared to our neighboring countries (Singapore, Malaysia). Hopefully that won't be the case for the WP8.1 updates including Bahasa Indonesia in WordFlow and Cortana.

too sad for our country, Indonesia! unfortunately our country will never support with these applications. total a regret for my lumia. 

I'm amazed at the lack of coverage from tech sites regarding WP new features, besides cortana and Nokia devices.

Exactly. I am seeing Cortana being touted as the most important feature but there are lots more to showcase. God knows if the other sites even know of them.

Well, I am not surprised. Media has mostly been anti-MS. The Verge had full headline coverage when the 5c & 5s were launched but almost no coverage at least by Tom Warren regarding WP8.1 except for bits and pieces about Cortana. Either MS has to get out there and promote itself aggressively or the media has to properly acknowledge WP's importance as a viable 3rd ecosystem.

So true! What did the 5C really bring to the table other than colored plastic? Its basically a repackaged 5. But it got far more coverage than anything Windows Phone, and all of the WP related articles are like "Windows Phone 8.1 still missing apps..." like an update from Microsoft controls that.

I am seriously brainstorming to figure out a cool app so I can stake a claim in the market that is bound to explode when people quit hating and actually try WP. These large companies are idiots for not putting at least 1 person on the task.

Perhaps it uses a combination of movement as well as Microsoft's pretty bloody awesome text thinker upperer (words escape me).