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7 ways autocomplete can get smarter

Autocomplete is one of the best (or depending on how hastily you push ‘send’ – worst) things in the world.

We rely on it so much that Google plans to let us autocomplete whole emails.

Here are seven ways predictive input can improve.

1. Recognizing names from previous emails

Jakub Kokoszka has a tough name to spell. Above, autocomplete fails to pick up on his name from the email I’m responding to. If it had recognized that I was trying to type it, it might just save an embarrassing error.

2. Merging word parts together

How many times does the exact suffix of the word you’re typing elude you in autocomplete? For instance, if you want to type “egotistically,” for all the computer knows, your goal could be ego, egotist, egotistic, egotistical, or egotistically. There are hundreds of suffixes. The keyboard should let us select the closest offering (such as “volunteer” in the example above) and, when we follow it with our suffix of choice, automatically marry the parts.

3.  Being holiday-aware

The letter above was typed right before Mother’s Day. Notice how, after I type “Happy,” autocomplete fails to suggest the upcoming holiday. It still doesn’t get my drift after “Happy Mother’s.” Instead, it offers “to,” “week,” and “evening.” Yes, happy mother’s evening.

4. Being location-aware

I live in Las Vegas, but my phone pretends not to know where I am. It should be able to autocomplete names of places, towns, roads, and nearby attractions.

5. Utilizing data from other apps

As John Koetsier of Inc.com points out, Apple could step up artificial intelligence by pulling information from apps. Siri may not know which city my friend lives in, but Facebook sure does. In fact, Facebook could also tell spellcheck my friend’s name isn’t wrong. Autocomplete could even suggest my flight number or time based on the tickets in my Delta app.

6. Knowing when you’re retyping

Usually, when you want to move text, you copy and paste. However, sometimes you’ll delete a line and find yourself rewriting it elsewhere in your note. If autocomplete recalled my earlier syntax, it could save some effort.

7. Incorporating Siri’s smarts

Siri tells us all sorts of things – the time in a foreign city, tomorrow’s high, even math answers. But try incorporating one of those details in a message and autocomplete plays dumb.

For instance, if you type, “My alarm is set for,” the preset time should appear. Or “I’m watching” could surface the title of the film you just interrupted on iTunes. When you type that you owe someone $5, autocomplete could place a $5 Apple Pay (or Google Pay) button in the predictive text field to save you one more step.

Send your questions and feedback to hkeely@reviewjournal.com and follow me on Twitter: @HarrisonKeely.

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