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    Google’s text prediction made my typing slower

    This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
    Google’s text prediction made my typing slower
    Even after you’ve gotten used to it and your fingers have all the necessary muscle memory, typing on a smartphone can still be annoying, especially if there’s something lengthier that needs to be written. This is why tech companies are putting a lot of effort to make the process less cumbersome. We get things like voice typing and swipe typing, but the biggest helper is probably text prediction.

    Text prediction uses AI (what else?) to give you suggestions either about the word you’ve started typing, so you can finish it with a tap, or your next word. Luckily, AI can’t read our minds just yet, instead, it’s relying on the text database it was trained with to guess what you’re trying to type.

    Different keyboards have their own prediction patterns and not everyone is satisfied with the way they work. I’ve been typing on Google’s Gboard on every Android phone I’ve used and with time I noticed something interesting…

    I’ve gotten so used to Gboard’s text prediction that now I type with the expectation that I don’t have to finish the word. I’d type a letter or two and check the predictions which usually have the word I’m going for. Sometimes, however, it won’t and I’ll add a letter or two and check again. This process might repeat itself 2 or 3 times depending on the length of the word and by that time I would have probably finished typing it myself if I wasn’t checking for predictions so often.

    We, humans, are creatures of habit. We have our routines and we like to stick to them. This is especially true when it comes to texting and Google’s AI can take full advantage of it. Whether it’s helping me input my preferred morning greeting or common phrases like “I’m going to my parents’ house for the weekend”, Gboard often helps me write whole sentences just by tapping the suggested words. And on the occasions when the suggestions aren’t going the way I want them to, I feel a millisecond-long frustration that I actually have to type everything myself.

    What’s even cooler is that even made-up words or nicknames will eventually find their way into the suggestions pool. So, if you’re often asking someone if they want a “snackaroo” from the kitchen, that’s what Google would offer you as a word.

    How good can predictions get?

    There’s obviously room for improvement when it comes to text prediction, but if keyboards are to take a big leap into becoming more useful, they’ll need more access. I know people hate that our information is already shared with more entities than we’d like, but hear me out! If Gboad had access to Google Calendar, for example, and you start typing “I’m busy later , I have...” and it can see that you have a meeting with John and suggest that, even adding the time. Or you type “I’ll be late...” and it suggests “...because there is a traffic jam” since it knows from Google Maps that you’re stuck in traffic. 

    Google already pulls information from your emails for flights and packages so it can help you keep track of them, why not extend these capabilities to Gboard as well? Or maybe even get information from its search engine. Say you’re texting someone “Wanna see the new…” and it checks new movie releases (in the background) and suggests “... Star Wars movie” for example. There are plenty of other ways our already deep entrenchment into the Google system can be used to save us valuable seconds while typic.

    Of course, the concern arises if the connection won’t be a two-way one with Gboard data reaching Google’s AdSense servers so it can target you with ads based on what you’ve been texting. As we’ve discussed in a previous article, that seems to be happening already one way or another, so I personally wouldn’t mind getting some extra convenience out of it.

    And if you’d rather husker over every letter in your text messages then you can always turn off word suggestions completely. I kind of doubt you’d do that, though. Feel free to share your good or bad experiences with text prediction but don’t forget to mention which keyboard you’re using!



    2. applesnapple93

    Posts: 339; Member since: Jan 06, 2016

    Gboard is still terrible (pixel user) randomly the accuracy is just off and text correction is inconsistent.

    4. Tizo101

    Posts: 636; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

    So the best keyboard in smartphones is terrible? Okay

    3. Brewski

    Posts: 734; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

    Who tf types on a virtual keyboard? I have been using swype since 2010 and never had any issues.

    5. ShadowHammer

    Posts: 213; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

    I use a combo of swipe and text predictions with Gboard. Overall, it does alright, but I find myself having to go back and fix things in messages often, because it doesn't get it right. I miss the text prediction from my Windows phone, it was so much better than Google's. I don't know what algorithm Microsoft used, or if it had Cortana integration, but it just did a much better job at getting the correct swipe word and then suggesting the next words accurately. Sometimes I wonder what Gboard is even thinking with its next word suggestions, because they make no sense for the current sentence. It's like it has no clue how people speak/write English.

    6. Pigaro

    Posts: 90; Member since: May 15, 2016

    SwiftKey always predicts in advance all the words I'm going use in a sentence. It understands me better.
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