Microsoft has been releasing a number of interesting apps to Android and iOS of late, and it recently announced a new one that really takes its integration in your phone to a new level. Not only that, but it adds a number of great features that should be very helpful for those plugged in to the Microsoft ecosystem.

The Hub Keyboard app itself basically brings a host of new features to your keyboard. The app is basically aimed at those who feel like they often need to switch between apps to complete common tasks.

Installation And Design

Installing the Hub Keyboard is extremely easy to do. Users imply have to install the app, then head to their default keyboard options to change the default to the Hub Keyboard.default

The design of the keyboard is not bad – the keys are clearly defined, something which is helpful considering the fact that users can’t swipe type as they can in other Android keyboards – this is a fairly serious omission – I have gotten used to swiping words rather than typing them, and typing again will take some adjustment.

Above the keys can be found a selection of icons, which are located where other keyboards might offer autocorrect suggestions. As a side note, the default view of the keyboard does not offer any autocorrect suggestions. Instead, users can tap on the first icon along that row to hide Hub Keyboard icons, where autocorrect suggestions will show in their place. It’s unfortunate that it’s one or the other, but understandable that Microsoft doesn’t want to take up too much screen space.

Usability

The second icon along the row basically offers access to the most recent clipboard items. This can be very helpful considering it doesn’t just offer access to one single clipboard item, but multiple.

sign inThe second icon requires a login to the user’s Microsoft account, and allows users to drop in a document from their Office 365 accounts. A great addition, to be sure, but rather limiting in that really only Microsoft Office 365 users will find use in it. If the keyboard included options for Google Drive and Dropbox it would catapult the keyboard to the next level.

The next icon in line is contacts, and it basically enables users to quickly and easily send over contact information, however it is important to note that it does enter all of the contact info into the message, so if you only want to send a phone number you might have more work in deleting stuff.copy-paste

Last but most certainly not least is the translate tool. This was honestly the most interesting, impressive, and useful tool for me. It basically enables users to type something in their mother tongue, after which it will automatically translate into the language that the user pre-selects.

Conclusions

The Microsoft Hub Keyboard certainly has a long way to go to be perfect – autocomplete could be much more front and center, and the ability to drop files in from other cloud storage services would be extremely useful.

For the average person who really only texts and emails without needing to do other things won’t need the hub keyboard. The multitaskers among us, however, could find the app extremely useful, especially those working with people in other countries who speak other languages.