Custom keyboard app SwiftKey has dropped its £2.99 price tag and become free to download as part of an expansion effort which includes paid-for themes.
The company was founded in London five years ago and recently raised $17.6 million in venture capital funding. The app is currently used on more than 200 million Android devices and earlier this year signed a deal with Samsung to provide keyboards on 100 million devices before 2015.
In an official statement SwiftKey co-founder and CEO Jon Reynolds said: "We have made the decision to go free to better enable everyone, everywhere, to use SwiftKey’s market-leading technology without payment being a barrier. We're focused not only on reaching more users with our powerful technology, but on building great content and features to engage them."
SwiftKey’s success is built on the back of machine learning algorithms that offer predictive texting and autocorrect functions that are more accurate than those on stock keyboards. The app even learns users’ individual quirks so that if, say, they consistently hit the ‘n’ key when the need the ‘m’, SwiftKey will take this into account.
The new freemium business model includes a $4.99 pack of themes (which will also be given away to any users who previously bought the app) while 33 of the new 48 themes are free to download. They offer a range of colour palettes from autmunal shades to 80s neon.
The news comes just after Apple announced that it will be opening up the iPhone and iPad to third-party keyboards, although SwiftKey say their decision to make the app free was made before the announcement.
“Are we going to build SwiftKey Keyboard for iOS 8? Of course we are. We’ve already started," said the founders in a statement issued after Apple’s 2014 developer conference. “We’re delighted Apple has decided to embrace the importance of opening its platform to third party keyboards.”