A couple of weeks ago I got a new phone. It’s touch screen. Swish, I know. So enamoured was I with its sleek body and technological prowess that I managed to throw it on the floor as soon as I got it out of the box. Still, unless that’s somehow fried its insides, I doubt very much that my clumsiness is responsible for the single, overbearing issue I have with it: its predictive text programming.
Unlike a lot of my philistine friends, I’ve always been a fan of predictive text, and my last phone and I got along marvellously in this respect. However, this new one? (Which is manufactured by the same company as the last). Not so much.
For a start, it seems to have really strange word preference programming. Type ‘anyway’ and ‘cowboy’ comes up first. I ask you, how often do you use the word ‘cowboy’ in a text?
Then it gets quite insulting and assumes you can’t spell, so tries to help you along a bit. Not happy with ‘the’? You must mean ‘tidying’. No? How about ‘undying’? Not that either? Come on come on come on, we’re texting here! ‘Viewing’? ‘Chewing’? ‘Undulating’?
It also seems to really, really dislike apostrophes. On most models you can just scroll through the options available from the symbol key (usually #1) and there it is, floating around happily waiting to mark omissions and possessives. Seems like Samsung (there, I said it) got no respec’ for this little fella since they’ve BANISHED him to the second page (of nine) of the symbols menu, accessed outside of the text box. And when you think about the nature of most texts – I’m going to be late / I’ve got a cold / It’s at 8pm / There’s a dress code, etc – this is a bit of a blinkin’ problem for people like myself, who find that the grating sight of an un-apostrophed ‘Im’ makes them twitchy and uncomfortable. I hasten to add, as well, that this isn’t just a predictive text issue. Even if you’ve got a lot of time to kill and fancy some old school input-each-letter-at-a-time texting, you still have to arse around finding the apostrophe.
This in itself creates a whole world of text based drama, because after inserting the apostrophe, you have to type the remaining letters, which the phone doesn’t recognise, so it starts throwing panicked and ill thought-out suggestions instead. Example: I’m typing the word ‘they’ll’. This comes out as ‘they’lloyd’. If I want to type ‘I’ve’, Samsung thinks what I’m really after is ‘I’Tesco’, followed by ‘I’veggie’ and ‘I’technology’.
I suspect the ‘I’Tesco’ thing is my fault though, as I deigned to add a word to the phone’s ‘dictionary’. Similarly, I added ‘PDF’ and ‘HR’ to its bank of wisdom, and given their key correlation with ‘see’ and ‘is’, they’ve now got preferential treatment over ALL OTHER WORDS. I guess it’s trying to be helpful, but I detect a hint of maliciousness when all I want to do is send off a quick 20 second text and I end up spannering around for ages trying to make ‘I’lloyd PDF how it goes. HR Dave coming?’ into something people might be able to understand. With hindsight perhaps it’s cleverer than I gave it credit for. Maybe it’s getting back at me for dropping it, after all.