On iOS 8 and predictive typing

There’s a world of difference between autocorrect and predictive typing. Autocorrect is like ordering food at a drive-through window via a balky speaker. You order something, and a voice at the other end reads back what you ordered. If you don’t pay close attention, you’ll miss the inaccuracies and won’t get what you wanted. There’s a constant monitoring required on your part to avoid mistakes that are a combination of clumsiness on your part and a lack of contextual understanding on the other end.

Autocorrect is active and will hijack your typing if you don’t pay attention. Predictive typing, on the other hand, is more of a passive experience. Use it if you like, don’t if you don’t. Predictive typing keeps you in the driver’s seat.

Predictive typing is smart, but passively smart. While autocorrect tries to tell me what word I am trying to spell, predictive typing tries to grok the context. For example, if I type, “I lifted the” and then hit a space, my three word choices are “ban”, “ban on” and “same”. These are reasonable guesses and, if they are right, a single tap and I’ve saved myself some typing.

Autocorrect is still there, but in a more passive form. When you hit space to end a word, iOS 8 will make a correction if need be. If you don’t like the change, hit delete and a bubble will appear with your original typing. Tap the bubble and either move on or make any corrections. This form of autocorrect works well for me, is a much less frustrating experience.

There’s great attention to detail here as well. For example, if I tap on a word to accept it, a space is automatically placed at the end of the word so I can continue typing. But what if I am at the end of a sentence? If I hit a double-space, a period is placed at the end of the previous word and the caps key is down, ready for the beginning of a new sentence (as you’d expect). If you type any form of punctuation (a ? or , perhaps), the space is erased and the punctuation mark is placed immediately after the last word entered.

Not sure who at Apple was responsible for this bit of code, but if I find out, next time we are in the same place, beers are on me.



  • hootieandtheshellfish

    ios 8’s Predictive text is way too slow to be of any useful value right now. The changing animations and color changes for each word is superfluous. A lot of people will use the predictive text to somehow validate the feature, but know good and well that typing out a four letter word is much easier and effective than waiting to see if iOS correct predicts that four letter word. And still, if it doesn’t predict it correctly out of three choices then you are left to type it in yourself, thus wasting valuable seconds.

    • Not sure I follow…I don’t spend seconds analyzing each suggested word. But for long words such as “suggested” I type “sugg” then look for the expected predicted term, tap, move on. I ignore it for smaller words.

      What are the superfluous color changes you’re referring to?

      • hootieandtheshellfish

        So when I say color changes, that’s not illustrating it accurately. I’m referring to the way each new predictive word is rendered as you type, expanding and revealing, disappearing and then expanding, letter by letter. It’s unnecessary. Display the word….now.

        Let’s face it, we’ve been using virtual keyboards for years now and this is a backwards step in communicative efficiency. Yes, I’m sure it helps if you have a sentence like this…

        “Where is the dictionary and encyclopedia?”

        Just as GFYanti.. had mentioned, if they are going to revolutionize a feature in iOS, let it be how Siri helps up dictate faster and better. If you put the iPhone in airplane mode, predictive text still works. Siri, when used in the context of messaging, should be able to work without a connection. Have her be instantaneous and freakishly accurate the moment I speak.

        Predictive text as it is, “predicting” three words/phrases at a time is ridiculous and doesn’t advance mobile communication AT ALL. It’s an add-on feature playing catch-up, and yes, the iOS predictive animations when rendering are much too slow.

        • franksspam

          You are making a HUGE assumption that most people type fast on ANY keyboard, virtual or not.

          • hootieandtheshellfish

            It’s been over seven years since the first iPhone was released and users have had the opportunity to “practice” typing on a virtual keyboard. The potential of seven years…that’s a long time. And I was commenting on virtual keyboard, not physical keyboards.

          • Herding_sheep

            Really? My moms been typing on ANY keyboard for over 7 years. She’s still no expert touch typist. Not the quickest typer on an iPhone either. Its not as simple as assuming people have been typing on iPhones for 7 years and are all experts by now. Some people are just getting their first iPhone, or have only recently moved into the modern era. Some people will be slow typers no matter how much time they spend on it.

            You’re looking at things through only your perspective. My mom happens to like QuickType a lot, and it does help her a bit.

          • hootieandtheshellfish

            QuickType is actually a handicap in learning how to type faster and more accurately letter by letter.

          • agreed – my dad is 72 and likes the predictive text feature. he’s slow. he’s on his second iphone.

          • franksspam

            Once again making assumptions. You are assuming that everyone has been using the iPhone since the first version. For a large percentage of people the iPhone 6 will be their first smart phone ever. For many that have been using one for one or more years they do not type fast. They never tried to get faster. They type with one finger still.

            Stop judging everyone through your own lens and it might become clearer why these improvements are going to help a lot of people.

          • hootieandtheshellfish

            you’ve made a ton of assumptions just now, so be careful.

            1. Everyone has not been using the iPhone since the first version

            2. For a large percentage of people the iPhone 6 will be their first smart phone ever.

            3. For many that have been using one for one or more years they do not type fast.

            4. They never tried to get faster.

            5. They type with one finger still.

            6. These improvements are going to help a lot of people.

          • franksspam

            Let me help you a little bit.

            Assumption – a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof

            I absolutely have proof of several of those and anecdotal evidence of the others.

            1) With every successive year Apple sells more phones than in all previous years COMBINED.

            iPhone 1: 6.1 million

            iPhone 6: 4 million pre-ordered on the first day. 10 million sold the first weekend.

            Therefore, it is IMPOSSIBLE that everyone has been using an iPhone since version 1 unless about 20 people are sharing each one.

            2) We just passed 50% of all phones in use being smartphones last year. We are not at 100% yet but the number keeps increasing every year.

            http://www.asymco.com/2013/10/07/when-will-the-us-reach-smartphone-saturation/

            3, 4, 5) Just look around. You will be amazed at how many still type with one finger. It doesn’t even occur to many people to use two fingers to type on a phone.

            If you were only talking about the benefit to you (or lack thereof) from the beginning I would never have responded. It was because you were placing your personal experience onto everyone else that I replied.

            I personally type over 40 words per minute with my thumbs but I still find value in the predictive text feature.

            Everyone is different but when you make claims about most people typing faster than predictive, etc. just isn’t correct.

        • I really don’t understand what you’re talking about here. The animation is less than a blink. It’s certainly not in the way; I didn’t even notice it wasn’t instant until I watched it closely.

          Are you seeing a longer animation?

          • hootieandtheshellfish

            Yeah, it’s probably not as noticeable as you would expect it to be, but in the world of typing and waiting for QuickType to ‘predict’ incoming words or phrases i think it matters. It doesn’t help that QuickType won’t begin to render possible words until a space is inserted after the word you have just typed. So it’s that split second of pausing to see if the word is there, and if it’s not, restarting typing. It’s just not a seamless experience to me.

            And this is the same type of attention to detail that I think matters in iOS. Like when they sped up the zooming in animation when you tap on a folder in iOS 7 at some point, but they forgot to adjust the timing of the title of the folder. So even now it’s off, with the folder title coming in slower than it needs to be, and disappearing a few milliseconds too late as the folder zooms back out to the grid. Like I said, it’s not a huge detail, but for those that rely on animations being able to be “invisibly appealing” it’s definitely a niggle.

          • I don’t really work that way, though I could see how some would. I’ll accept your niggles. But I use Quick type solidly. I completed the last word with quick type and quick type added the space for me.

            I could see that delay being frustrating if you’re used to blending input methods, but I’d encourage you try it again and not to use the space bar to complete words. Use the quick type “suggestion” to suggest what you’ve already typed. I think it will behave exactly how you want it to.

          • hootieandtheshellfish

            I’ll leave it on the for the week and see if there’s renewed reason to integrate it more seamlessly than previous encounters.

    • Struckpaper

      How much have you tried it before deciding it’s too slow. You, like most of us, have been typing out every letter all your life. And you expect a new way of data entry to be mastered and more efficient overnight? Totally biased and unfounded whine, IMHO.

      • hootieandtheshellfish

        I’ve tried it long enough and on enough separate occasions (since betas) to know that it’s not a fluid addition to typing on a mobile device, especially an iOS device.

        This is not a new way of data entry (which would be something like Swype), this is an added feature and it’s been on other mainstream mobile OS’s for much longer with varied success. QuickType in iOS is neither groundbreaking or novel.

        In what way is what I said biased?

        • wait — so why do new features have to be novel to iOS?

          “Sorry, guys, we can’t implement this feature — Android had it first! Delete.”

          • hootieandtheshellfish

            That’s a ignorant statement to make. If new features never made their way into software/hardware how else do you think we would progress? If features were implemented in exactly the same way as other OSs have already done years before how is that beneficial to the consumer? Innovation has always been a key priority for Apple [or for any other tech company that values it], and this is no different. You may see it as a tag-on feature that since everyone else has been doing it, that it’s more than okay to include it in exactly the same way and have it do exactly the same thing.

            QuickType isn’t “smart” and it certainly does not aim to make iOS any more unique than its other counterparts.

    • Herding_sheep

      The animation isn’t what causes me to not use it. I actually think the animation is a nice touch, I’ve never experienced myself waiting for the animation in order to proceed.

      My problem is, I just don’t pay enough attention to it. I’ve gotten so good at typing, accurate and fast, that I don’t find myself looking at it often enough. But as kyron said, if I’m typing a long word I tend to look at the QuickType bar and the word is right there waiting for me after just typing the first few characters.

      If you’re trying to rely more solely on the predictive text to supplement 90% of your typing, then I guess the animation will probably seem like it gets in the way. It literally takes fractions of a second, but perceptions are definitely everything. If they sped up the animation to double speed I doubt it would be getting in the way. And if you’re relying on it that much where 1/4 of a second seems too long, then you’re probably relying on it too much.

    • I disagree. I’m finding it vastly more useful than the autocorrect which never seemed to meet a contraction it understood. I’m really enjoying the new feature. It may not work for you, and it can be improved, but it’s a major step forward in typing quickly for me. And I can type 120 wpm+ on a keyboard.

      • ex2bot

        Yeah, and it can be turned off, just like autocorrect could.

        Gotta say, though, I’m really enjoying Swype. It’s amazingly accurate.

        • I wanted to love Swype, but the keyboard is just too slow in appearing. I’ll have to try a few more keyboards to know if that’s OS or Swype.

          • ex2bot

            I haven’t noticed a delay, but I’m using a Retina iPad mini. What I’m finding I don’t like about Swype is that it doesn’t seem to learn. I type “OS” (for operating system), and it corrects it as “IS”. I fix it. Next time I type “OS”, Swype corrects it to “IS”. I hope they fix that. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

            Having said that, most autocorrections with Swype are right on and the sliding finger thing is very nice.

    • Rafael David González

      Way too slow? Yeah, I agree, if you’re The Flash.

      • msechea

        It’s been a while since I’ve posted that and I’ve left this feature on. My experience still stands: it’s of little value to me. It’s only useful for those random long words that I don’t feel like typing and it’s not “smart” enough to keep up with regular predictive typing. I find no difference in the particular language it claims to predict based on what app you are in or what subject matter you’re talking about, who you’re talking to., etc.

        Other people say, yeah this is great for folks who are transitioning to a smartphone, or older individuals who find it helpful, and that’s fine.

        Full disclosure: I am NOT The Flash.

  • Guest

    X

  • GFYantiapplezealots

    Predictive text, in general, is MUCH slower than just typing the damn thing. It might save your thumbs from getting as tired, but it’s not going to make you type any faster.

    What I’m more interested in is using dictation in iMessage. It works for the first sent message, but after that it stops working until you launch it again. If/when Apple fixes that, it will be awesome!

    • John Barnes

      It will be useful for people like my mother-in-law who holds the phone with one hand and types with one finger on the other hand. There is no way that she will type faster than the predictive text.

      Those of us who type with two hands will likely rarely find it useful.

      • I type with two hands but I’m awful at it. I’d gotten pretty good at using the autocorrect to fix things as I went, though (and was quite annoyed autocorrect works slightly differently on the Mac than it does on the iPad and iPhone, but I can see why). Not sure if the predictive text will help me or not, but I have a feeling it will. I need to test more. Will be upgrading the iPhone to iOS 8.02 this weekend and will get to test it more with text messages.

        • John Barnes

          I should rephrase then to those of us who type quickly with two hands. I hope predictive text is useful for you. I think Apple did a nice job with it overall. There have been one or two instances where I was able to fire off a quick response to a text without having to actually type anything. Predictive text had every word I wanted.

    • Struckpaper

      This is unfounded. Most people type the “damn thing” faster than they use predictive text because they have been typing the years. Most try the predictive text function for a bit and give up, whining that it does not help. Like everything else, it takes time to master it. Like most smartphones, predictive texting on iPhone can be improved. But it’s utterly, completely, totally wrong to say it is slower, never mind much slower than typing out every character.

      • Mobile typing is a mess. It was a mess, and it remains a mess.

        There are those who believe that Graffiti is the best input method ever, because they learned it first. They learned to type with Graffiti, and stopped putting major effort into learning to type using something else.

        Then there’s the people who believe a physical keyboard is best because they learned to type on a Blackberry. Same thing.

        And now we have people who think a touchscreen is just the best, either because they learned typing with it.

        New input methods take time to master. I think it’s worth taking the time. Maybe someone else doesn’t, but that doesn’t make the newer methods worse in absolute terms.

    • ex2bot

      I disagree. On my iPhone 4, I could type amazingly fast using two thumbs. As long as I was in the ballpark, Autocorrect was almost flawless at translating. That’s why I never really understood the criticism of Autocorrect. You do have to proofread a little before hitting send though. I’m using Swype on my iPad. It’s fun! And accurate.

  • John Barnes

    “Autocorrect is still there, but in a more passive form. When you hit space to end a word, iOS 8 will make a correction if need be. If you don’t like the change, hit delete and a bubble will appear with your original typing. Tap the bubble and either move on or make any corrections. This form of autocorrect works well for me, is a much less frustrating experience.”

    This form of autocorrect was available before iOS 8. I’ve used it many times.

    There have been a few complaints regarding predictive text being too slow. I can’t really say that I find it too slow (most of the time), but rather that I can type with two thumbs faster than the word I’m typing appears as a suggestion. Suggestions appear quickly and they change almost instantly as I type, but I’m usually only a letter or two away from finishing before my word is there. It’s only partially useful if I’m typing words over about 6-8 letters long. Anything shorter isn’t even worth it. That said, for people who are one finger, hunt and peck style typists, the predictive text will probably save them a lot of time.

    My only real complaint is how the words change position. I have had many occasions so far where I see a word I’m typing appear in the left or right position only to move to the center when I go to press it. This causes me to choose the incorrect word and slows me down. I don’t have a suggestion to improve it yet, but it is annoying when it happens.

  • Prof. Peabody

    Personally, I find the predictive keyboard to be more of a hinderance than a help and I’ve already turned it off on all my devices.

    I type very fast, so I find the necessary taking your eyes (and two fingers) off what you are writing to look “up” at the predictive word choices, then selecting one with one finger, then switch back to two fingers and look back “down” at what you are typing is all far too much. It breaks both my concentration, and my speed.

    If I am inspired, I can type a full page of text on my iPad mini almost as fast as I can on a laptop, and when I look back at it, there might be an error or perhaps two, on the page that needs correcting. If on the other hand I have to stop every three or four words, to look, and tap, and then go back to the writing, it takes all day.

    • Scott Heuman

      When you get used to predictive text, you find you look at the prediction bar more than the keys. A full sentence can be typed in maybe 2-4 seconds once it learns your style. Exceptions are when there is a word that is new or long, but longer words take more time with any mobile keyboard. Obviously you should type however you like, but if you give it a chance, you might be surprised how fast it can be!

  • franksspam

    I am sooooo pleased with all of the updates to the keyboard. I had become so frustrated with the iOS 7 keyboard that it was starting to drive me mad. The autocorrect was so god awful on it. It would let me type words like again with a j where the i goes and not even attempt to correct it and yet it would completely replace one or two words that were typed exactly right just because it thought I must have meant something else. The iOS 7 keyboard was broken. These fixes and new features are most welcome.

    Also, what none of the negative commenters are thinking about is that the new predictive text learns from you so it will get better over time. And not only does it learn but it learns based on who you are talking to and makes suggestions based on that.

  • franksspam

    There is one thing that bugs me about the predictive text. It tries to put the most likely word in the middle box. However, often it takes a word from one of the side boxes and moves it to the middle. I find myself hitting the wrong box because I see the word while I’m typing but I have type one or two more letters before I try to tap it and it has moved to the other box just before I tap, causing me to tap another word.

  • James Hughes

    I use dictation when I can. Why not let the os do the work. That’s the way it should work. Eventually it’ll be using thoughts. But for now I’ll take whatever help I can get. Which in the case of my ipad is predictive text. It wrote half of this.

  • Nan

    Is there a way to get rid of the predictive “voice”? I find this extremely irritating!

  • Courtney Jenkins

    anyone know why a question mark always pops up after i type a period? so annoying. I checked my settings in keyboard and don’t see anything obvious

  • arge

    Thanks for the tip. I’m new to the iPhone and I’m an old geezer. I like the predictive feature but was annoyed because I kept having to back space and type the . Your tip of double space to add the punctuation is exactly what I was searching for.

  • Scott Heuman

    I must say that I am disappointed in the speed of the predictive text on the stock iOS 8 keyboard. If you have been an apple-only user, this won’t even compute. If you’ve used SwiftKey or Swipe, you get exactly what I am talking about.

    I have had three different generations of iPhones, and one Galaxy Note 2. It is simply impossible to compare the speed of typing from the standard iPhone keyboard to something like SwiftKey or even stock android. It’s as fast as typing on my laptop…maybe faster. It’s something you’d have to mess with for a bit to understand, but once the keyboard “learns” you, it’s like nothing else. Right now, I am using SwiftKey for iPhone, and it’s about 90% as good as the android version. It’s also buggy and freezes up. Hopefully apple keeps refining theirs. I prefer to run things stock if I can.