A British keyboard app that uses artificial intelligence to predict the next word you want to write has suspended part of its service after users reported receiving predictions meant for other people, including email addresses and phone numbers.
SwiftKey, which was created by three Cambridge graduates and bought by Microsoft for £174 million earlier this year, has temporarily disabled the ability to sync the app on new devices.
SwiftKey has a database of words and phrases commonly typed by each of its users, which it uses to make suggestions as they’re typing. The app, which can read personal text such as emails, social media interactions and text messages, has access to sensitive information including regularly typed phone numbers, addresses, names and phrases.
Users complained that they were seeing random phone numbers and email addresses in their keypad’s suggestions. By random, it means that the user details that showed up in people’s keypad suggestion were the ones they didn’t even have in their phone book in the first place. SwiftKey has acknowledged the bug and is working to fix the problem. Though, SwiftKey says the bug does not pose a security issue to its users.
SwiftKey believes that this issue is being caused by a bug in the keyboard’s synchronization feature, which keeps personal data of users updated between different devices. In the meanwhile, SwiftKey has turned off the cloud sync service and updated its applications to remove email address predictions. Until the problem is permanently fixed, users will be unable to back up their SwiftKey language model.
As mentioned earlier, several users on various web forums pointed out unexpected predictions wherein unfamiliar terms as well as email addresses were appearing while using the SwiftKey keypad. This issue was becoming quite common among SwiftKey users. Many users took to social media to report the keypad bug.
A Reddit user wrote, “Today my galaxy s6 finally went out of warranty. So I rooted it and installed the XtreStoLite rom. Then I restored all my apps from the play store. I logged into SwiftKey with Google+. And now, I’m getting someone else’s German predictions with only English(uk) pack installed. I have never typed German in my entire life…I also was suggested an email id in an email field. It’s bad enough to lose a trilingual dictionary built over almost 4 years. Now I’m also worrying about someone getting all my suggestions.”
In a response to the post on Reddit, SwiftKey said: “Our team is looking into this as a matter of priority.” The company disabled its synchronization feature three days ago.
A keyboard is very directly related to your personal info as it can and most of the times does store information about what you type and therefore we suggest choose your keyboard app wisely. If you’re not careful it may even record your passwords. Swiftkey is a trusted keyboard app and we hope the bug is fixed soon.
Which keyboard app do you use on your smartphone? How is your experience using it?