Content of the material
- Is Nine Keys Enough for Texting?
- Analyzing emotions
- How Does Predictive Text Work?
- Predictive Text: Pros and Cons
- Community QA
- Welcome to TechRepublic!
- T9s Predictive Technology
- The older version: Text Suggestions
- What can you help me when the results of How Does Predictive Text Work are not available at your site?
- Predicting text
Is Nine Keys Enough for Texting?
If you now have a smartphone with a full keyboard, do you remember when you tried to send an SMS message on your old clamshell phone? It was T9 that made composing messages on a tiny device possible, bringing text messaging and email to mobile devices in a way that was never effective before.
True — most cellphone users now have smartphones (A Pew Research study reports that, as of 2019, 81 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone as opposed to just 15 percent who own a cell phone that is not a smartphone). But the small size of the keyboard on smartphones can still make it difficult to compose messages, so predictive text (not just T9 predictive text) is still important.
Anyone who has a nine-key keyboard cellphone will find T9 a critical tool. But even some smartphone users choose to take advantage of it through the various Android or iPhone apps that add a T9 keyboard to a device. These users appreciate the larger, nine-digit grid and often have developed a level of comfort with the T9 keyboard on previous phones so that they find texting is faster when using it.
But, while T9 pioneered the idea of predictive text, it's not just for T9 keyboards. Smartphones with full keyboards usually make use of some kind of predictive text, even if it's not T9-specific.
How Does Predictive Text Work?
Many know the basic function of predictive text but not a lot of people know how this type of technology truly works. Despite being a form of sophisticated technology, it is still widely error-ridden, which often leads users to simply disable the function. But before you hit disable, here’s a quick overview of how predictive text works.
Predictive text curates its predictions on texts that you use over time. It builds its glossary of words based on words and phrases that you type repeatedly. The system will then work to score these words by the probability of when you’ll use it again.
If predictive text offers you a word, you can either accept its correction, ignore the word, or even add a new word to your dictionary so that the system won’t correct you again. It’s recommended that you add a word to your dictionary so that it doesn’t get flagged repeatedly.
Should you decide to accept correction, the keyboard will assume that the word you typed is wrong and will continue to offer corrections once you type it again. If you choose to ignore a word, the keyboard will assume that it is not wrong but not a word that you often use. The more you use that word, your keyboard will think it might be a probable choice and present you with it the next time you type a similar sentence or word.
If a word is added to your dictionary, the keyboard will automatically “learn” it. The predictive text will offer it as an option if you enter a pattern similar to the keys or if you use a similar sentence pattern.
Again, it’s best to keep in mind that while the predictive text is a modern function, it’s still not perfect and will rely on how you use it to make it function properly for you.
Predictive Text: Pros and Cons
Just like any other gadget or app, using your phone’s predictive text also has pros and cons. For some, predictive text can be very helpful in their everyday lives but others beg to differ.
Before deciding where you stand, here are a couple of pros and cons to consider when using Predictive text.
- Speeds up typing
- Streamlines words and phrases
- Corrects simple mistakes
- Adapts word choices over time
CONS Lessens the use of cognitive skills Limits word usage Makes users dependent Disrupts typing Prone to errors
Remember that, at the end of the day, the good and the bad will always depend on how you use the widget and how much you rely on it.
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T9s Predictive Technology
T9 is a patented technology that was originally developed by Martin King and other inventors at Tegic Communications, which is now part of Nuance Communications. T9 is designed to get smarter, based on the words entered by the user. When certain numbers are entered, T9 looks up words in its fast-access dictionary. When a numerical sequence could yield various words, T9 displays the word most commonly entered by the user.
If a new word is typed that’s not in the T9 dictionary, the software adds it to its predictive database so it will be displayed next time. While T9 can learn based on user experiences, it doesn’t always correctly guess the word you intend. For example, “4663” could also spell “hood,” “home” and “gone.” When multiple words can be created by the same numeric sequence, they are called textonyms.
Some versions of T9 have smart punctuation. This allows the user to add word punctuation (i.e. the apostrophe in “didn’t”) and sentence punctuation (i.e. a period at the end of a sentence) using the “1” key.
T9 can also learn word pairs that you use often to predict the next word. For example, T9 could guess you’re going to type “home” after “go” if you use “go home” often.
The older version: Text Suggestions
Windows 10 supports a type of predictive text, Text Suggestions, that works with Microsoft 365 apps. In a nutshell, it’s an intuitive feature that suggests how to complete the current word you’re typing, as shown in Figure A. It also anticipates the next word that you might type, sometimes. If you’re not seeing this, you can enable the feature as follows:
To enable predictive text, do the following:
- Press Windows+I or right-click the Start button and choose Settings.
- Click Devices and then choose Typing in the left pane.
- The first set of options, shown in Figure B, are for the software keyboard. You’ll find these with touch mobiles, and the options are usually enabled by default.
- The physical keyboard options are below, as shown in Figure C. Turn on the Show Text Suggestions as I Type option to enable predictive text using a physical keyboard.
With the feature enabled, try it out. Open Word and start typing. You should see the suggestions above and a bit to the right of the insertion point. To insert a suggestion, click it. If you don’t happen to use a mouse, use the Up Arrow key, then use the Right Arrow and Left Arrow keys to highlight the word. Press Enter to insert it.
If you’re not using an English version or you go back and forth between languages, check out the Multilingual section (Figure C). This feature supports English, but there’s no official list of supported languages. If you’re using another language, Windows might try to accommodate, but you might need to enable this additional option.
It’s a helpful feature but it is pervasive—so much so that many users find it annoying. Fortunately, you can disable the feature.
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