More secure and better at correcting typos on your phone, can this Swiss startup compete with Google?

The app we use most on our phones is the keyboard, which spends up to an hour a day on average typing on our phones to decipher our thoughts and interact with our contacts.

But the keyboards we commonly use are not designed for today’s mobile world and are based on typewriters used in the 19th century. The most commonly used keyboards from Google and Microsoft also may not be that secure.

Swiss startup Typewise is trying to compete with the tech giants by offering a keyboard app that claims to be 100% safe and lets you type with four times fewer typos.

“Our algorithms run on your phone, so none of your data, nothing you type, is sent to the cloud or the Internet, and this is very different from almost any standard keyboard you will find on the market.” – Typewise CEO and co-founder David Eberle told Euronews Next.

“People are afraid of WhatsApp and say ‘I need to switch to some secure messenger’ but then the keyboard they use in that secure messenger can still siphon all the data and send it somewhere else.”

How it works?

With a larger hexagonal keyboard and layout, it also claims to be easier to use, with 33% faster typing speeds.

But moving away from the keyboard we’re so used to using on a daily basis and getting used to the new features, admittedly, takes time.

The keyboard works with artificial intelligence technology that corrects your mistakes and can predict your next words, as well as learning the user’s own slang or colloquial vocabulary.

“The algorithms are better than even the existing Google keyboard,” Eberle said.

Another key feature that the keyboard offers is that it recognizes over 40 different Latin-based languages, so you can type in English and French in the same sentence without auto-correction or manual language switching.

Because the company is based in Switzerland, a country that speaks four languages, it is in a better position to understand the need for multilingual technology than its competitors in the US.

Typewise is also collaborating on its artificial intelligence system with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and is developing its predictive text input capabilities.

“Traditional machine learning models are more probabilistic and you see that on your phone too. The typical words that are suggested are ‘this or that or he or I’ because those are very likely words,” Eberle said.

“But you don’t type those words all the time. So I think the real problem with this technology is to make it more personal to you, how you type, and also to understand the context.”

He said the technology could become really powerful if it could not just predict the next word, but one day be able to predict the next sentence and even an entire paragraph.

But the company wants to go beyond smartphone keyboards.

Its goal is to license its AI technology as an Application Programming Interface (API) and Software Development Kit (SDK) so that it can then use its technology for mobile devices, desktop computers, and even brain-computer interfaces.

How to beat the tech giants

Google and Microsoft are also developing their own predictive text technology, but the Swiss startup says it’s also vying for a spot in the market.

“We think there is room for an independent vendor that also takes a different approach with privacy built in,” Eberle said.

“I think this is a big opportunity because not all large enterprises want to work with Microsoft or Google, which are their proprietary technologies. And we believe that with a more open approach, we have the right to win in the market.”

Eberle founded the company with his high school friend Janis Bernecker, officially launching Typewise in 2019. Since then, it has grown to over a million users.

He hopes to grow tenfold in two years. The app is free to download, but there is a professional setup that allows you to use additional features for as little as 2 euros per month.

The company started with a Kickstarter campaign and ran a successful seed round in 2020, raising $1 million (€1.2 million). Compared to last year, revenue increased by 400%.

The company is also launching a crowdfunding campaign on August 23, which Eberle says has already attracted a lot of attention.

In his gigantic task of taking on Google and Microsoft, Eberle believes that being based in a small European country has its advantages.

He acknowledged that Switzerland is more risk-averse than the US, but says that as a small country you are forced to quickly expand into other markets, which requires new approaches.

“We know that the domestic market will never be big enough. And maybe that encourages us to be more open-minded,” Eberle said.

“I think with any startup you have, you have to kind of run uphill, and you just have to run fast enough to do it.”