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iMessage is number 1 – is it the best though?

How to improve your messaging life

iMessage

Love it or hate it, predictive text with iMessage is part of our everyday lives. How many times per week do you find yourself sending that all too embarrassing, follow-up message saying, ‘sorry, I meant……” Predictive text is here to stay, so best we tame the beast. Often times, iPhone is not the best when it comes to this text-twisting magic. On that, I can’t comment as I have never used Android, but did you know that you can modify it on your iOS device to improve the experience?

Can’t live with it, can’t live without it

Predictive text is AI. It’s clever, damned clever actually, and typically, it makes a pretty sterling effort of helping us. But it is a machine and, it is learning about you, the language and the style of your writing all the time, building up a personal dictionary on you every time you pick up the phone. If, however, you find it becoming more of a hinderance than a help, let’s take a look in what ways you can make the whole experience a happier one.

Turn off Autocorrect

Not really advised, a tad Draconian, but it will certainly do the job. If you wanted to go the full nine yards, however, then on your iOS device, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Auto-Correction. In making this choice, the next time you open up iMessage and start typing, it will no longer change words that aren’t in the keyboard’s dictionary, such as proper names. Your phone will no longer change the words, rather highlight to you that there is a problem.

If you do make a mistake, help is still available from your keyboard. You’ll just need to tap on the misspelled word, and a list of alternative spellings and words will pop up. Tap the correct spelling if you wish to replace the word you typed. And, if those red lines indicating a typo are annoying you, well, they too can be turned off. Return to the keyboard settings screen and un-tick Check Spelling.

Killing the beast—turn off predictive text

Predictive text offers words by offering suggestions for both the current & next word you are typing. It is only a suggestion, though. This feature displays the word you’re typing in quotes along with its other suggestions. If you don’t want your phone predicting what you might be about to type, navigate to the Keyboard settings screen, and turn off the switch next to Predictive. If you have disabled Auto-Correction and Check Spelling, however, I’d recommend keeping this feature on.

Making it yours

Did you know you can add words and phrases to your keyboard’s dictionary, so they won’t be flagged (only, however, if you decide not to disable Auto-Correction and Check Spelling)? Once again, go to your keyboard settings screen and tap Text Replacement, then select the + icon. Then, all you’ll have to do is simply type the word or phrase you want to add into the phrase box. Leave the Shortcut box empty and tap Save. Now, when you type the added text, it will no longer be flagged as incorrect.

Shortcuts

You can create a shortcut rather than having to type a certain word or phrase every time. From the keyboard settings screen, tap Text Replacement and select the + icon. Type in the phrase, then add the corresponding shortcut. Try this – add your full name in the phrase field, and use only your initials as the shortcut. Now, in an email or iMessage, by only using your initials, your full name will be added. To delete a shortcut from the list, swipe it to the left and tap Delete. Assuming you are signed in to your iCloud account, these changes will be stored over all devices and actionable on native apps such as Mail, Notes, Reminders, and Contacts. They will even work on third-party apps such as Twitter too.

Voice Recognition

To save typing at all, in favour of voice recognition, make sure that Enable Dictation is enabled. Then, in the message app, tap the microphone icon and start speaking. Remember to include punctuation marks as you speak. The future is here!

And lastly

A few more suggestions to better make the keyboard your very own.

Slide to Type this lets you slide your finger along different keys to form a word. Often a quicker way to create a word. It does take some getting used to, but as it won’t interfere with your general message experience too much, leave it enabled.

Delete Slide-to-Type by Word will delete the entire previous word that you entered by sliding. If you find that the sliding feature annoying and results in incorrect words that you need to modify, you may want to turn off this option to more easily correct them.

Auto-Capitalisation will capitalise the first letter of a word after you type a period key. It also allows you to double-tap the spacebar to enter a period key, too.

Enable Caps Lock keeps the uppercase keyboard alive if you double-tap the Shift key.

Smart Punctuation automatically converts certain punctuation marks to make them look better, such as turning straight quotation marks into curly ones or a double dash into an em dash.

Generally, most of the above are on by default in the keyboard settings, but at least you now know where they are to check.

Have fun!

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Originally published at https://www.talkingtechandaudio.com/blog on February 21, 2022.

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