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Jon and Ben - SwiftKey

Co-Founders Jon Reynolds, CEO and Ben Medlock, CTO

With the Meffys 2014 open for entries, we are taking a look at some of last year’s winners to find out what winning a Meffy meant to them and what they’ve been up to since they celebrated their success in the international mobile content & commerce awards.

This week, Innovation in Mobile Apps Award winner SwiftKey, best known for their  ‘mind-reading’ touchscreen keyboard apps, fill us in on their busy year so far.

What did SwiftKey win a Meffy for?

Founded in London in 2008, SwiftKey specializes in building technology that makes it easy for everyone to create and communicate on mobile. We are best known for SwiftKey Keyboard, our ‘mind-reading’ touchscreen typing app, which topped Google Play’s best-seller list in 2012 and 2013, and went free on June 11, 2014. Our first iOS app, SwiftKey Note, launched in early 2014 and was selected by Apple as Editors’ Choice.

SwiftKey’s technology is also licensed to hardware manufacturers and currently features on more than 200 million devices worldwide. We have raised more than $20M in venture capital to date, accumulated many prestigious awards, and have over 140 employees around the world.

In November 2013, we won a Meffy Award for Innovation in the ‘Mobile Apps’ category. At SwiftKey, innovation is at the heart of everything we do. We are constantly challenging ourselves to approach and solve problems differently and deliver better experiences to users.

Why do you think the judges picked your entry?

Innovation is a value core to SwiftKey’s mission and to the way we work as a team. SwiftKey’s technology represents more than just an advancement on what already exists; it’s a fundamental leap forward. Since we started out in 2008, we’ve been intentional about maintaining a forward-looking approach. SwiftKey has achieved many ‘firsts’, including the first touchscreen keyboard with next-word prediction, with context-based learning, with personalization and adaptive learning over time, with truly multi-lingual capabilities, or to have a simple three-prediction user interface.

“We believe in upholding a culture where all opinions, suggestions and mistakes are valued, where we can challenge everything and always hold ourselves to an extremely high standard. It’s an enormous honor to have been recognized for our commitment to innovation by the Meffys!”

More recently, we’ve introduced emoji prediction and now support 66 languages. However, the beauty of our technology is its relevance to people’s everyday lives. Our stats show that our users have saved over a trillion keystrokes using our technology and typed over 4.4 trillion characters with the SwiftKey app! There’s no avoiding the fact that the tech powering SwiftKey is highly advanced (the writing on the whiteboard walls of our HQ is enough to make any head spin), but the result is human-shaped and easy to use.

To maintain and encourage this innovative way of thinking, we take two days every other month as ‘Innovation Days.’ These days are designed to allow SwiftKey employees to come together to create, hack, invent, and nurture ideas without the usual restraints of everyday work. It’s an opportunity for us to take a step back, think differently, and socialize constructively.

We believe in upholding a culture where all opinions, suggestions and mistakes are valued, where we can challenge everything and always hold ourselves to an extremely high standard. It’s an enormous honor to have been recognized for our commitment to innovation by the Meffys!

[youtube=]What have you been up to since winning the Meffy?

It has been a very busy time of new and different applications of our award-winning technology. In January of 2014, we also announced a partnership which will see our predictive keyboard technology feature in the AX1, Clarion’s new Android in-car entertainment system. Also in January, we launched our very first app for iOS, SwiftKey Note. The fastest way to take notes on iPhone and iPad, SwiftKey Note launched to critical acclaim, was selected as Editor’s Choice, and had over a million downloads in the first month. In May, Apple announced that they are opening their OS up to third-party keyboards later this year, so we are gearing up to bring our replacement keyboard technology to iOS 8.

In early June of this year, we launched a major update to SwiftKey Keyboard, making it free in Google Play after spending 2012-13 as the #1 best-selling paid app. With this big change came the addition of user-requested features, including over 30 new free and premium themes available through our brand new SwiftKey Store, support for more than 800 emoji, emoji prediction, and an optional number row. In the first week since launch, we have welcomed over a million new users and 22,000 5-star reviews, as well as over several million theme downloads from the SwiftKey Store.

Our team has grown in all three of our international offices: headquarters in Central London, and our offices in San Francisco and Seoul. In December of 2013, Scott Weiss joined SwiftKey as VP of Design, who now leads an expanded Design and UX team. In May of 2014, James Bromley joined our team as Chief Operations Officer to help scale and accelerate the business as we prepare for a big year ahead.

What are your plans for the year ahead?

We have ambitious plans this year to continue to work to deliver on our goal of making it easy for everyone to create and communicate on mobile. Our main focuses are growing our user base on Android as a free app, launching our keyboard technology on iOS 8, continuing to invest in R&D innovation, and continuing to grow our team and hire the best people. As the playing field for smartphones levels out, a new, more intuitive mobile frontier is emerging. Ultra-personalized mobile experiences that meet users’ needs before they have to ask are taking the place of one-size-fits-all approaches. Most smartphones today offer incredible convenience and tons of options, but still require you to DO something before these features work. This is changing, and we are have helped pioneer this space with SwiftKey Keyboard. We plan to continue to play a big role and pave the way in how this technology evolves and develops.

Apart from your own, which mobile companies are the ones to watch right now?

At SwiftKey, we’re fascinated by language and have a very international team with more than 30 languages spoken, so we love Duolingo’s app which makes learning a new language fun and easy.

There are also two cool apps around that are trying to change the way we digest information and make it easier to read: Spritz Inc makes it easier to read faster by looking at the way your eyes understand text, and Umano narrates the news to make it easier to catch up on the go.

Overall, Google remain a vital one to keep watching! They continue to innovate anticipatory, adaptive technology with mobile tools like Google Now.

meffys_entries_open_600There are 16 categories to enter in 2014. Judged by expert panels of international journalists, analysts, academics and VCs, the Meffys provide companies and innovators with an unrivalled opportunity to be considered for the global mobile industry’s top accolades with winners announced at MEF Global Forum 2014 in San Francisco 17th – 19th November. 2014 entries are open now