Here is the one-handed 'Arc mode' in Microsoft's Word Flow keyboard for iOS

Last night, we revealed some of the first screenshots of the new Word Flow keyboard that is in private beta testing for the iPhone.

Today, we can add a bit more information to that including some images of the one-handed mode with the new Arc mode that is available too.

Arc mode is a one-handed option that lets users align the keyboard to the left or right side of the screen. It then curves the keyboard around presumably to shorten the distance that a user's thumb will have to reach for letters on the edge. The motion is likely more natural for the end-user due to the orientation of the keyboard when using it one-handed.

On Windows 10 Mobile, there is also a one-handed mode where the keyboard shifts to the right or left of the display, but it does not curve. Users can also control the size of the keyboard and move it around the screen freely. (Windows Phone users can read our how-to and deep dive into that feature right here).

Additionally, we can now confirm that so-called Shape writing aka swiping on the Word Flow keyboard is present despite our earlier doubt. Shape writing is a subset of features in Word Flow as text prediction is the real core aspect of Microsoft's technology.

Now, before everyone gets into a tizzy, our beta tester did have this to say about the experience so far:

"In my initial tests - our native WP keyboard and the stock iOS one are way better than Word Flow for iOS."

Granted, Word Flow is still in beta with an expected release date in June, and this is just one person's initial opinion. However, as of now, at least one users is not overly impressed with the new keyboard from Microsoft. Things could still improve over the coming months, but iOS is well-known to have some issues when using third-party keyboard e.g. reverting to default when a user did not intend to do so and some performance issues.

Nonetheless, Shape writing is something that Windows 10 users have been asking for ever since the OS's release last year. While using large-screen devices Shape writing does not make much sense, at least on tablets like the Surface 3 and others the option to at least use Shape writing seems like it would be a no-brainer. As to why it is not present on Windows 10 and if that will change in the future we are not too sure.

For what it is worth, Word Flow for iOS is only intended for use on the iPhone and not the iPad at this time.

Another novelty feature with the iPhone version of Word Flow is the ability to set background images and themes for the keyboard. Although the function serves no practical use, many people enjoy the ability, and it would be fun to have on Windows 10 and Mobile as well. Indeed, on Android, there is a booming market in selling in-app purchases for these themes where companies give the primary product – the keyboard – away for free.

Will Microsoft bring feature parity back to Windows 10? It's a good question one that would make sense for Microsoft to follow through on, but going by their past track record and knowing these are separate teams working on these projects we are not too hopeful.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

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.

142 Comments
  • One behalf of all the Microsoft fans that buy and support you, thanks for your support in return. Basically...thanks for nothing.
  • lol
  • Finally! Microsoft helps poor Apple on their struggeling mobile business :P
  • Well Apple is failing to innovate themselves so it's nice to see an old friend help them out.
  • Again.... You do remember Microsoft bailed Apple out of bankruptcy in 1997? 
  • If this many people are complaining about an obvious, ongoing issue,,, then there MOST DEFINITELY is a tangible truth to their concern.
    ..........
    Let's not sugar coat the situation... The fact is that MS DOESN'T give other platforms more attention than it does to it's own.... But, if it's OS is in great need of refinement the fans are going to bark at the slightest hint of MS giving another platform the smallest amount of attention... Personally, I don't blame the fans. They've (we've) been let down for years, and they are sick.... Anyone who hates, or doesn't understand, fans outcries when these situations arise needs to wakeup, and open their eyes... You can't blame people who support Windows (Phone) to want it to be worth their while.. They deserve, and should be able to reserve that right!..... These are the true fans, not overly idealistic sheep that follow MS around thinking they can do no wrong.. If that's your angle, then fine, but PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB REAL WINDOWS FANS WHO LONG FOR PHONE TO BE THE BEST IT CAN BE.... Don't hate!
  • Here's Microsoft plan: They invest money in building a killer keyboard for Apple. It becomes a huge seller in the App Store, and Microsoft makes millions on it. They pay back their initial investment, and they use the huge profits to build stuff for Microsoft users. See? Brilliant. Unless of course the keyboard is free, then Microsoft is just flushing needed development dollars down the iOS toilet.
  • Lol.. Millions?. Wow. Ok. Once again, LMFAO!
  • The fact that iOS 3rd-party support is still poor at this stage, even SwiftKey struggles on iOS because how buggy the keyboard support of iOS is. I don't even think Microsoft can make millions on it, especially that Microsoft is kinda new in the field of being 3rd-party keyboard developer. Maybe they can on Android, as 3rd-party keyboards over there thrives quite well.
  • He's joking....
  • I mean seriously... this borders with stupidity... 
  • I dunno have you typed on the iPhone? It's pretty awful. Someone had to fix it :P
  • you are right... I have and hate it... change my mind... way to go Microsoft!
  • MS surely has to be aware of the poor performance. So why even bother wasting resources? Makes no sense to intentionally create a poor UX. How does this move the W10 vision forward?
  • Simple, by using other platforms to guinea pig ideas, if successful, it will be broguht to the OS, if not, they didnt tarnish their 1st party product with a bad idea.
  • No, they only tarnished their name with an even bigger user base.... Lol. Facepalm.
    Think about that.
  • What tarnish their 1st party product? The product they don't have? Or the product that's still so buggy that's just unusable? Or the product that noone uses? Which one?
  • It is terrible, that's why I use Swiftkey. Of course there are still the OS based problems that you outlined in the article. I really expected Microsoft to make changes to SwiftKey by merging in Wordflow features instead a separate app.
  • Yeah, for me they should just rename WordFlow into Swiftkey as this brand is already well established. Just make the WordFlow features became part of SwiftKey instead and vice versa. On Windows, it will be renamed as SwiftKey and instead we get the SwiftKey features as well. They should just combine Hub Keyboard, SwiftKey, and WordFlow with all of those necessary features and make it under brand of "SwiftKey with WordFlow tech".
  • I want to cry every time I have to type a wifi password on someone's iPhone, can't imagine how anyone can get things done on the stock keyboard.
  • Same here... Or just navigating on it period. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Very true... I can't stand the keyboard on iOS. With Android, I have found a few good keyboards, but I love my windows phone keyboard the best... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • By nothing do you mean a keyboard that's been on Windows Phone\mobile for a long time? Or do you mean the Arc design that Windows devs deemed not good enough for Windows phone and went a different direction while still offering one handed use? Or (most likely) do mean that you want a hello kitty picture behind your keyboard?
  • Who deemed the arc design as "not good enough"?
  • He himself. The developer he is talking about is him only.
  • I didn't develop the keyboard. I don't work for Microsoft.
  • If you'll recall, this very feature (although I think it was unnamed at the time) was leaked as coming with the new Wordflow keyboard for Windows Phone 8. For whatever reason, they (whoever developed it at Microsoft) decided to scrap it and go with the one handed typing design we have now. I'm not making this stuff up, this happened a long time ago. There's an article about it on this site somewhere.
  • That's a far cry from being deemed "not good enough."
  • I couldn't have said it better!
  • From the people who love and pay you....how hard can it be to provide arc keyboard to windows phone user!!!! MAKE WINDOWS GREAT AGAIN!!!! Rather than iOS
  • They did. It didn't work right so they scrapped it and went with what we have today. Daniel should have mentioned this in the article.
  • They did. It didn't work right so they scrapped it and went with what we have today. Daniel should have mentioned this in the article.
  • Well said.. SMDH
  • I think even Daniel gave you a like.
  • Thanks Terry. Focus is perfect.
  • Terry is in charge of Windows 10 and all Windows. This is iOS development and likely under a different group. I'm not sure what iOS devs at Microsfot could do to help in developing Windows 10 with Objective C and SWIFT programming.
  • That right there is the problem at MS. A keyboard team should be involved on all things Word Flow/text input not spread around various businesses that mean nothing to the bottom line
  • I assume it's more of a Venn Diagram where Word Flow program managers overlap with the actual iOS vs. Windows devs for teams.
  • Sorry Daniel but this doesn't promote cross platform development, also if it's based on wordflow isn't the code base likely to be c# or c++
  • I disagree about the statement that shape writing doesn't make sense on large screen devices like the Surface. If you're holding it and don't have the physical keyboard open, shape writing is a must. Punching letters individually is cumbersome.
  • ok
  • I totally want it on my surface 3, especially in portrait mode.  I don't use it with a keyboard, I use it primarily in tablet mode and I always want shape writing, I'm so used to it on my phone.  I already up'd as many feedbacks as I could on it and created my own lol.
  • I would like small curved keyboard on big tablets, with shape writing of course. You could hold tablet with both hands while using just one thumb. Full size keyboard on 12" screen is sad experience.
  • Windows 10 is not ment to be used with only your thumbs. Not yet.
  • Either stop whining and get an iPhone or Android (and possibly return when W10M is ready) or just be glad that the software company that makes your OS will garner good will with people other than already die-hard fans so that, in the long run, the ecosystem can grow and sustain itself.  It's really not that difficult of a concept.
  • You could also take the somewhat radical idea that someday and iPhone user may want to use a Windows 10 Mobile device (c'mon, suspend disbelief) and by making so many serivces/features available Windows 10 Mobile would hae a lower learning curve to pick up and use. I'm not saying that will be the case, but it is a logically sound argument :P
  • I agree.  Microsoft has to play the long game here.  They can't sink in millions to an already failing department otherwise the stockholders would demand it be cut off entirely--like some prematurely thought to do with Bing before they realized how integral it was to Microsoft's long term plan.  Mobile is still part of the plan but they HAVE to go where the numbers are with iPhone and Android.  When some of the best apps on those platforms are from Microsoft, people won't be so hesitant about switching to that platform down the road.  I just think it's silly that someone would be angry that a company they like would develop for another platform.  Microsoft isn't a single-minded company like Google or Apple, nor should they ever try to be.    
  • Wrong. Those companies you mentioned are not single-minded companies; they do make their software available for other platforms. The difference is, users that have bought into their hardware get treated with a certain, "you are important to us" flair.  Here, we get second fiddles. And oh, if we cry foul, we get told by people like you that we should stop whining and be thankful we got anything at all.  Call me crazy but I thought that the best way to get the Microsoft experience is to buy actual Microsoft hardware. 
  • Cry foul all you want.  All I'm saying is that if you feel you've been slighted by Microsoft, you should go out an buy an iPhone or Android and be done with it.  Complaining on internet forums won't do much in the way of getting results.  Also, follow the money and you will see that Google is simply an advertising company.  Apple is simply a hardware company.  Microsoft is simply a software company.  Each company will do anything necessary to keep their cash flowing which makes sense why Google will go where users are (Android, mostly), Apple wants to keep people locked into their hardware alone (hence no outside development) and Microsoft is forced to develop on any and all platforms.
  • I wish you could write comments in brief.
  • I do not agree. What makes more logical sense is that Microsoft is helping a Windows Mobile user ease into iOS. The learning curve on iOS will be much easier with all of Microsofts services there.  
  • I agree completely with this perspective.  The transition from WP to iOS is almost completely pain free at this point and it keeps getting better.
  • Not if they keep overpricing their phones. $199 for the 650 was a joke. That's more than 4x what a 640 could be had for with an equivalently good SD400 cpu and reasonably nice styling. I'm not for paying 300% more just for looks, which makes me an iPhone user.
  • But, like you said, the keyboard is not good enough. Why the iOS user should use W10M? "But after Beta it will be good", so why MS can't bring it too W10M? (customization and arc mode)   Meanwhile, iOS user go to W10M and see that the app on iOS was better than the W10M...
  • What if the arc mode is actually garbage? Why does everyoen need to have a "feature" just because the other guy has it? You remember they also tried the arc keyboard on the old old UMPC concept. Perhaps it's not THAT great of an idea that we should all instantly whine we don't have it. Maybe this team just implemented it, but will find it to is a bad idea.
  • What if none of us want the Hamburguer Button because it's Garbage? Why do W10M needs to have the same features from Android?
  • Tell that to microsoft that it's garbage. They've used the "hamburger button" since windows 1.0 :) http://i1-news.softpedia-static.com/images/news2/Android-s-Controversial...   It is not a bad concept in and of itself. It needs to be implemented consistenly. That's the bigger problem. The original Metro language didn't scale well to more complex apps. We may have seen MDL2 in its current form whether android took off or not. The "hamburger button" has become a learned affordance. It's used EVERYWHERE. It's not going away.
  • R