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Microsoft's iPhone keyboard takes aim at Google with new built-in search

Microsoft's iPhone keyboard takes aim at Google with new built-in search

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Microsoft has released a big update for its Word Flow keyboard on the iPhone this week. The biggest addition is a new search interface that lets you find GIFs, emoji, images, contacts, and anything from Bing search results without leaving the keyboard. Microsoft's GIF search feature copies the animated pictures into your clipboard, allowing you to paste them in. Word Flow will even pick out GIFs from words you type, so if you say "deal with it" in a message you'll get a GIF icon that brings up the relevant image.

The built-in search is useful for finding emoji, and Bing search results can be quickly dropped into a message in a similar way to Google's Gboard keyboard on the iPhone. Word Flow still features the unique one-handed mode, and Microsoft is adding in new themes, support for iOS text replacement, and even cursor placement using 3D Touch controls.

Microsoft's update comes a few months after Google released its own Gboard keyboard with built-in search for the iPhone. It's clear the software giant wants to ensure it has one of the best keyboards for the iPhone. Until earlier this year, iPhone users had to pick between keyboards like SwiftKey, TouchPal, and Minuum. Microsoft acquired SwiftKey, and now it and Google have the best third-party keyboards for the iPhone. Both companies now appear to be battling to control the main way you input data into an iPhone.