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 (opens in new tab)

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • :D
  • SO i guess i'm not the only Dutch guy here.
  • You're not dude, I am one of them too.
  • If It aint Dutch, It aint much :)
  • LOL that's pretty awesome.
  • +520
  • 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
  • Hooray! Thumbs up fro Dutch! Now hopefully also cortana in Dutch????
  • Dutchhhhhhhhhhhh yeaaaaaaaaaaah
  • How did that 15 yrs old boy got to try Wp 8.1's word flow??
  • Did you see this boy in the video?
  • Indiaaaaaaaa
  • Who wants the Swipe from Droid now??
  • NOPE.
  • Well Swype launched on WinMo not Droid.
  • This is true :)
  • People don't realize that...
  • I await 8.1 and the improvements that it brings (a file manager is on top of my list).  
  • Get pocket file manager, it'll fulfill most of your needs. It's fully functional.
  • Thanks Saksham Sharma  
  • also Hindi(Latin)!!!!!
  • BRAZIL!!!! I can't believe it =)
  • Same about me, Holland is such a smal country...
  • ANGOLA ... yep can't get much more unique than that :)
  • 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. =)  
  • wtf, hindi in latin?
  • LOL. its probably a typo. Shouldn't it be Hindi(India)?
  • No its not a typo. Its perfectly fine. Read my comment below.
  • 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.
  • and you should stop being an a-hole
  • That's not common knowledge. Stop showing your assholishness.
  • I speak Dutch and Turkish so I'm good! Both languages supported!Hieperdepiep..
  • Hoera
  • ;)
  • Are the Dutch heartbroken about Strootman?
  • Ebonics!!!!
  • It would be nice if they could at least get the spell checker/auto correct to work properly in English! lol
  • Yeah Dutch !!!
  • I studied in Maastricht for a year!
  • The Netherlands...such a small country but so important for the world!!!!
  • The nether regions, such an important region. Teehee, kidding you lol
  • I thought the record was beat by more than eight seconds?
  • The news came on GsmArena a week ago..But the languages are new..
  • 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?
  • No biggie. He did mean 20.53 seconds
  • I think joe belfiore claimed this in his keynote as well if I remember correctly. He mightve been talking about something else maybe
  • A bit old news i think..... No offence though....:)
  • I'm pretty sure I said that in the article too, although the list of languages is new.
  • Daniel why we getting our update in 2 months why not this month. Hit me back
  • Dev preview users: Ha-ha
  • Uh, the list of languages is also old news...sorry Rubino
  • 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.
  • People just like to feel like they are contributing. Placate them.
  • Sorry you're getting hate Daniel. I still love you! ^.^
  • No one is hating :)
  • Well said Daniel! People just need an excuse to rant on the internet cuz they cant in real life. :-/
  • Some people feel the need to show off that they are 'better informed than WPC. Its a slightly pathetic, "Little Brother" kind of compliment.
  • +100
  • 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 ;)
  • Either one of us need English classes
  • Hadn't read about it previously and enjoyed reading about it today.
  • 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.  
  • Well said. I had never heard about this before, so I appreciate it.
  • 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.
  • Who cares about Prinoy Da Costa and josonjoy1986? I love you Daniel!
  • 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.....:)
  • Then why exactly did you post it ? What was the added value ?
  • 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.....:(
  • The main idea of the article is the languages not the video stupid
  • Ah Daniel, Hindi has got nothing to do with latin. You might want to change that. Or is it something im not getting?
  • Wp8 supports Hindi in both Devanagri and Latin scripts (think of Hinglish).
  • When you type "kya haal hai", it is Hindi latin
  • And when you write rukho it means stop this shhh maaaannnn!
  • 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
  • Awsome
  • Can't wait to try this :)
  • not Greek :(
  • 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.
  • Where is the mother of all the languages????
    Εκτός και αν είναι προς την λήξη της... 
  • Do you mean the Proto-World language? It's still a theory, though.
  • Greek language...
  • Sanskrit is the mother of all Languages not Greek.
  • Sanskrit? How so?
  • 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.
  • This!! +920
  • 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.
  • I thought that it is obscure now...
    Even i know it a bit, studied in class 6,7,8..
  • 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. :)
  • Sanskrit and Greek are both descendants of the ancient Indo-European language.
  • It left together with your Tax money
  • 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 :(
  • χεχ ντάξει μπορώ να περιμένω 
  • 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.
  • In the World about 270 millions russian-speakers. Это очень много (Russian).
  • No Swedish, why am i not supriced :)
    Cortana I guess never will be avalible in swedish either.
  • I live in Sweden as well, how many windows phones do you really see compared to android and ios? Fully understand
  • And if we don't get Swedish support you can't expect that figure to increase...
  • Good point
  • 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...
  • Exactly,
    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.
  • Yes, but were lies the hold-up?
    MS Swe or MS Generally?
  • 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
  • Yes problebly ;)
    Stupid danes :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.
  • sad but true story :/
  • 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.
  • Ive been thinking that ever since I first touched a windows phone... I just don't get it haha
  • Because Microsoft has no clue to what they are doing in the smartphone business... Just saying.
  • No love for Scandinavia. God damn
  • There is Finnish, but I bet that is only thanks to Nokia, not Microsoft.  
  • Finland is not in Scandinavia and Finland is the only country of the Nordic countries to get support at launch.
  • It's because you curse too much.
  • Yeah i too thought it was 8 seconds. Old news. Slowwwwww reporting.
  • 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. 
  • Oh yeah, I forgot about those restrictions. Sounds good. Looking forward to the review.
  • I want to get the developer review and find out new things myself. That way things will be more exciting.
  • Haha, seriously people are impatient, no worries Daniel, we still love u, keep the NEWS coming, old or new doesnt matter :)
  • NO,  supported languages by word flow aren't old news so thank you Daniel
  • we don't even have autocorrect or bing translate so this was expected :(
  • Seems ........... Faster
  • hahahaha
  • Disappointed that it took this long to see a comment like this since it's an instance where it makes perfect sense to post!
  • That's what she said... Oh my god 18s!!
  • English, Español et Française support? So can't wait till next Monday (dev preview is gonna be released)
  • If you install the dev preview on your lumia (if you have lumia) you're losing your phone's warranty.
  • No true, please check the discussions about this on the forums
  • 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