The app we use most on our phones is the keyboard, where we spend on average up to an hour a day typing on our phones to decode our thoughts and interact with our contacts.
But the keyboards we usually use aren’t designed for today’s mobile world and are based on the typewriters used in the 19th century. Arguably, the most used keyboards from Google and Microsoft are not secure either.
Swiss startup Typewise is trying to rival the tech giants by offering a keyboard app that claims to be 100% secure and allows you to type with four times fewer typos.
“Our algorithms run on your phone device, so none of your data or what you type is transmitted to the cloud or the internet and this is much different than any standard keyboard you find on the market,” Typewise CEO and co-founder David Eberl told Euronews Next. .
“People are afraid of WhatsApp and say ‘I need to switch to a secure messenger’ but then the keyboard they use in this secure messenger may still pull all the data and send it somewhere else.”
How it works?
With its larger hex keyboard and layout, it also claims to be easier to use and has 33 percent faster typing speeds.
But switching from the consoles we’re used to on a daily basis and getting used to new features admittedly takes time.
The keyboard works with AI technology that corrects your mistakes and can predict your next words while also learning the user’s slang or slang vocabulary.
“The algorithms are even better than the existing Google keyboard,” Eberl said.
Another major feature that the keyboard offers is that it recognizes more than 40 different languages based on Latin, so you can type in English and French in the same sentence without auto-correction or having to switch languages manually.
Since the company is based in Switzerland, a country that speaks four languages, it is in a prime position to understand the need for multilingual technology, unlike its competitors in the United States.
Typewise is also collaborating on its AI system with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and is developing its text prediction capability.
“Traditional machine learning models are more based on probabilities and you can also see them on your phone. Typical words that are suggested are ‘or he’ or he or me, because those are very probable words,” Eberl said.
“But you don’t write those words all the time. So I think the real challenge with this technique is to make it more personal to you, how you write, and also understand the context.”
He said technology can get really powerful when it not only predicts the next word, it can one day predict the next sentence and even an entire paragraph.
But the company wants to expand the keyboards of earlier smartphones.
Its goal is to license its AI technology as an application programming interface (API) and software development kit (SDK) so that it can then run its technology across mobile, desktop, and even brain-computer interfaces.
How to face the tech giants
Google and Microsoft are also developing their own predictive text technology, but the Swiss startup says it’s also a contender for a place in the market.
“We think there is space for an independent provider that also has a different approach with privacy built in,” Eberl said.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity because not all big companies want to work with Microsoft or Google, which is their proprietary technology. And we believe in a more open approach we have a right to win in the market.”
Eberle started the company with his school friend Janice Bernecker, and he officially launched Typewise in 2019. Since then the company has grown to have over a million users.
It hopes to grow tenfold within two years. The app is free to download but has a professional setup that allows the use of additional features for just over €2 per month.
The company started with a Kickstarter campaign and had a successful initial round in 2020, raising $1 million (€1.2 million). It achieved 400 percent revenue growth year-over-year.
On August 23, the company also launched a stock crowdfunding campaign, which Eberl said has already received a lot of attention.
In its huge challenge to compete with Google and Microsoft, Eberle believes that being in a small European country has its advantages.
He admits that Switzerland is more risk averse than the United States, but says that as a small country you are forced to expand into other markets quickly, which requires new approaches.
“We know the local market will never be big enough,” Eberle said.
“I think with any startup you have, you have to be kind of over the hills and you just have to run fast enough to have that kind of success.”