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When Autocorrect Becomes The Enemy By Adeleke Afolayan

There was a time when touchscreen smartphones were an item for sci-fi movies until the Palm Trios, Sony Ericsson P900s and ultimately, the iPhones changed that illusion into reality.

With touchscreen smartphones now comprising a vast majority among users, the use of ‘autocorrect’ on these phones have become a given but, is it absolutely necessary to?

In the pre-touchscreen era, t9 prediction (as word prediction feature was known as then) served as the alternative of typing words out on the phone’s physical keyboard which had numbers and three or four letters per key.

Personally, it was cumbersome typing without t9 help and over time, I’d become so good with t9 typing that I’d managed to input slang and even indigeneous words into the feature for seamless typing.

My first full touchscreen phone was the 3.5″-screen Nokia 500; which I still own by the way and is the reason why I’m not a fan of tablets, phablets… in short, phones with screens larger than a certain point.

Nokia 500
Nokia 500

Tried using ‘autocorrect’ when typing on the 500 and initially, I was adapting but eventually, I realized I could type faster with word prediction off rather than on hence, I became accustomed to holding the phone horizontally in order to use the full virtual keyboard rather than vertically.

Den I gradually wnt 4rm typin in ‘shorthand‘ to typing my words out in full. Given, there would be a typo or two (or three or more) as I discovered when Ki proofreading, it was nonetheless my preferred mode of typing.

I also discovered it helped me with knowing the correct spellings of words, rather than leaving ‘autocorrect’ with that job of completing the words well before you typed out half of it.

Another discovery was that I became unable to decipher certain levels of ‘shorthand’ typing when chatting, as I was forced to ask the other person to chat in  English because her messages were typed in levels of ‘shorthand’ way above my head; levels in which a word ‘shorthand’ word like ”gt” could mean any one of ”get”, ”got”, ”gran turismo” or ”Guaranty Trust Bank”.

After a few episodes of having to ask what exactly was meant by a certain ‘shorthand’ word, I began to ponder: y do ppl stil typ lyk dis wen autocorect s sposd 2 mk typn wrds in ful mch ezia?

Convenience and speed readily comes up as a reason but here’s the thing, since I began using a ‘droid late last year, it took me a quarter of a year to adapt to typing well on a 4.7″ touchscreen.

I’ve had the ‘droid for about nine months at this moment and I’ve settled to typing with word prediction due to the efficiency of the virtual keyboard I use.

Now imagine someone wu stil typs lyk ds evn wt wrd prdctn on and couple that with the efficiency of keyboards such as Google’s, SwiftKey’s and co, and what results could be quite damaging.

Since these virtual keyboards learn how we type, and ultimately adopt them, especially when we go out of the bounds of word prediction to type out an ‘uncommon’ word such as the ‘shorthands’, the danger of not knowing how to spell words correctly because your keyboard’s word prediction recognizes non-standard words as standard becomes real.

Hence, if u mst typ in shrthnd, @lst do so wt wrd prdctn off so as to prevent having ”av” as the standard word predicted rather than ”have” otherwise, you wouldn’t know when u submtd a covr leta 4 a jb applctn wrttn lyk ds.

And with word prediction on, do go through the ‘stress’ of chatting with fully spelt out words. I’m no big fan of the feature but I use it more out of necessity more than for convenience. That written, this post was typed on the 500; without word prediction.

Let us know your experience with Autocorrect and predictive text in the comment box below.

Adeleke Afolayan

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