Microsoft has acquired popular UK-based predictive smartphone keyboard maker SwiftKey for a reported US$250 million (A$349 million) to extend its artifical intelligence efforts.
The keyboard software is used on more than 300 million iOS and Android devices, Microsoft said, promising to continue developing SwiftKey for the platforms.
SwiftKey will join Microsoft's research team as the company works on ways to integrate its predictive technology into other areas of its business.
Microsoft will also tap into SwiftKey's "GreenHouse" ideas incubator, which is responsible for the development of features like SwiftKey's new Android keyboard, which uses a neural network instead of standard algorithms when predicting words.
Microsoft said SwiftKey's technology aligned with its efforts to develop "intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control".
"In this cloud-first, mobile-first world, SwiftKey’s technology aligns with our vision for more personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands, and directly supports our ambition to reinvent productivity by leveraging the intelligent cloud," the company wrote.
The software giant recently began reporting revenue for its 'intelligent cloud' division, which includes its Azure operations and server business. Revenue for the segment grew 11 percent in its most recent quarterly earnings to US$6.4 billion.
The SwiftKey acquisition also forms part of an ongoing push by Microsoft to provide services on the rival iOS and Android mobile platforms.
Over the past two years the company has taken over the Sunrise, Acompli and Wunderlist applications, and has been building custom apps for iOS and Android.