Because the automatic correction of iPhone drives us crazy every now and then

Until I got into the iPhone settings to get rid of it manually, I was haunted by the most classic keyboard errors. You will all remember it (and maybe some are still victims): it was enough to type “knows” to interpret the liturgical as an abbreviation of “I am coming!”. An option similar to the one that automatically converts “cmq” to “anyway”, but with one big difference: “sa” is also the third singular voice of a common verb such as “I know”.

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Result? It has happened to me a thousand times to write phrases like “Mom, I’m coming!”. If similar things happen to you on your iPhone again, to get rid of them you need to go to “Settings” → “General” → “Keyboard” and then “Replace text”. There you can take a look at the default abbreviations – or the ones you may have entered without counting the negatives – and take a look.

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The well-known case of “I’m coming! it is certainly not the only bad mistake these automatic systems make us fall into. Although not for the iPhone, the Google Docs (Cloud Recorder) problem is now well-known – and still unsolved – which suggests correcting “what’s” every time someone spells “what è” correctly without an apostrophe. In this case – since Docs is a cloud program that learns from the way all users write – the problem is that, obviously, most Italians make one of the most classic grammatical errors in our language by teaching it. so in intelligence. from Google

Even within the iPhone, however, the artificial intelligence behind auto-correction is sometimes unpredictable. First of all, how does AutoCorrect work on iPhone? Washington Post’s Joanna Stern explained it directly from Ken Kocienda, the man who invented the system before leaving Apple in 2017. “When you type, the self-correction algorithm tries to figure out in advance what you want. write by observing various elements, including the point where your fingers landed on the keyboard and what the other words of the sentence are, while comparing this part of the word with those contained in two invisible dictionaries “.

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The first of these two dictionaries is static: embedded in iOS, it contains the most common words and names, including those of certain football products or teams. Then there is the dynamic dictionary, which is created over time as we use the phone. This consists of our unique words. Maybe the last name of a friend of ours entered in the address book or the names of the installed applications.

Then there are some words (often slang or that we use with close friends) that we usually use but do not have in traditional dictionaries. Also in this case, and always using the machine learning algorithms, the iPhone learns by using: the third time you type this word, your phone learns that it is a word you want to use and adds it to the dynamic dictionary, thus ending up turning it into something else. “The static and dynamic dictionary will then give a little battle between them,” Kocienda explained. “The software is designed to pick the winner, but it does not always pick what you want.”

What should you do in cases where the correction system constantly changes the words to something else (or suggests a mistake if you have turned off auto-correction)? Here’s a trick you may find useful: go back to the keyboard settings and type “Replace text”. Enter the word that continues to be corrected in the “phrase” and “abbreviation” fields here. This way, the self-correction system will leave you alone.

My personal tortures, on the other hand, are slightly different. Ever since I changed my iPhone, for some strange reason the phone no longer immediately understands when I want to write “there” and when instead of “there”, often making me fall into a “there” that I am terribly ashamed of. In this case, I can not say that the iPhone always replaces “ce” with “there”, as they are both common words. The compromise was to insert the text “there” in the Replacement, explaining that it should be changed to “there”. It’s less direct than it used to be, but at least it allows me to avoid bad impressions.

But there are some words that the iPhone never learns, no matter how many times you type them on your smartphone. They are bad words. As they say in these cases, the fact that the iPhone does not learn “is not a bug but a feature”. As for swearing, in fact, they are all present in the static dictionary of the iPhone, but next to them they have a virtual asterisk with the inscription: “Never help anyone to type these words”. It’s not morality, but the desire to avoid this self-correction by making a mistake, change an unknown word into a dirty word, and maybe write an email to your boss or grandma.

Between misunderstandings, mistakes and precautions, however, there is one thing I will always be grateful for on my iPhone: it always advises me to use “what is” correctly, strictly without apostrophe. At least in that, it definitely wins at Google.

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