Google Buys BlindType to Keep it from Apple's iPhone, iPad

Google bought BlindType to improve text input for Google Android smartphones and tablets and keep it away from Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Google Oct. 1 purchased BlindType, whose software may be used on Apple's iPhone, iPad and Google Android devices to make typing easier, for an undisclosed sum.

BlindType lets users type pretty much anywhere on the device's touchscreen, recognizes users' gestures and translates them into text. The idea is that users needn't watch their keyboard the whole time.

"Although this would typically lead to countless spelling mistakes that would be impossible to autocorrect, BlindType predicts what the user intended to write with a success rate not previously seen on any other system," BlindType explained on its Web site.

"We're excited to welcome the BlindType team to Google," Google told eWEEK. "With their help, we hope to make touch typing on your mobile device easier and faster than ever."

BlindType's app hasn't yet been released, but it should go a long way toward improving the virtual keyboard input experience on Android smartphones, which has largely lagged that of the iPhone.

It's likely Google made the move to keep Apple from buying the company, or at least ensure the technology doesn't make it onto the iPhone or iPad.

BlindType underscores the importance of Google to own cutting-edge mobile applications to lure users to Android smartphones and tablets instead of Apple's iPhone and iPad, which dominate the U.S. in their markets.

Apple's iPhone holds 23.8 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, followed by Android at 17 percent, comScore said last month.

The application is one of several new input technologies to take advantage of the keyboard issue, joining Swype, which allows users to input text on a touchscreen keyboard with swiping gestures.

Verizon Wireless' Samsung Fascinate inclides a Swype button on its virtual keyboard so that users don't have to manually launch the application. It is unclear what Google's acquisition of BlindType will mean for Swype's prospects on Android devices.

BlindType is the latest of roughly two dozen acquisitions Google has made dating back to August 2009. The company has been especially busy bulking up its social media arsenal, acquiring Slide, Jambool, Angstro and SocialDeck.