Google’s text prediction made my typing slower

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Google’s text prediction made me type slower
Even after you’ve gotten used to it and your fingers have all the necessary muscle memory, typing on a smartphone can still be annoying, especially if there’s something lengthier that needs to be written. This is why tech companies are putting a lot of effort to make the process less cumbersome. We get things like voice typing and swipe typing, but the biggest helper is probably text prediction.

Text prediction uses AI (what else?) to give you suggestions either about the word you’ve started typing, so you can finish it with a tap, or your next word. Luckily, AI can’t read our minds just yet, instead, it’s relying on the text database it was trained with to guess what you’re trying to type.

Different keyboards have their own prediction patterns and not everyone is satisfied with the way they work. I’ve been typing on Google’s Gboard on every Android phone I’ve used and with time I noticed something interesting…

I’ve gotten so used to Gboard’s text prediction that now I type with the expectation that I don’t have to finish the word. I’d type a letter or two and check the predictions which usually have the word I’m going for. Sometimes, however, it won’t and I’ll add a letter or two and check again. This process might repeat itself 2 or 3 times depending on the length of the word and by that time I would have probably finished typing it myself if I wasn’t checking for predictions so often.

We, humans, are creatures of habit. We have our routines and we like to stick to them. This is especially true when it comes to texting and Google’s AI can take full advantage of it. Whether it’s helping me input my preferred morning greeting or common phrases like “I’m going to my parents’ house for the weekend”, Gboard often helps me write whole sentences just by tapping the suggested words. And on the occasions when the suggestions aren’t going the way I want them to, I feel a millisecond-long frustration that I actually have to type everything myself.

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What’s even cooler is that even made-up words or nicknames will eventually find their way into the suggestions pool. So, if you’re often asking someone if they want a “snackaroo” from the kitchen, that’s what Google would offer you as a word.

How good can predictions get?

There’s obviously room for improvement when it comes to text prediction, but if keyboards are to take a big leap into becoming more useful, they’ll need more access. I know people hate that our information is already shared with more entities than we’d like, but hear me out! If Gboad had access to Google Calendar, for example, and you start typing “I’m busy later , I have...” and it can see that you have a meeting with John and suggest that, even adding the time. Or you type “I’ll be late...” and it suggests “...because there is a traffic jam” since it knows from Google Maps that you’re stuck in traffic. 

Google already pulls information from your emails for flights and packages so it can help you keep track of them, why not extend these capabilities to Gboard as well? Or maybe even get information from its search engine. Say you’re texting someone “Wanna see the new…” and it checks new movie releases (in the background) and suggests “... Star Wars movie” for example. There are plenty of other ways our already deep entrenchment into the Google system can be used to save us valuable seconds while typic.

Of course, the concern arises if the connection won’t be a two-way one with Gboard data reaching Google’s AdSense servers so it can target you with ads based on what you’ve been texting. As we’ve discussed in a previous article, that seems to be happening already one way or another, so I personally wouldn’t mind getting some extra convenience out of it.

And if you’d rather husker over every letter in your text messages then you can always turn off word suggestions completely. I kind of doubt you’d do that, though. Feel free to share your good or bad experiences with text prediction but don’t forget to mention which keyboard you’re using!

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