After spending a month testing the predictive text system in Apple’s iOS8, Robert Lane Greene assures us that phones are a long way away from literary greatness:
What is striking … is that though the software can pick words that are likely to follow the previous word, the trick does not produce great phrases. Repeatedly pressing the middle of the three choices on my phone results in
The day I have a great way of the year and the other hand is the only thing that would have to go back and I don’t think that I have a great way of life and the day I have to go back and the other hand…
Curiously, sometimes the system repeats its own predictions (“and the other hand” occurs twice). But sometimes it doesn’t (“I have a great way of” is once followed by “the year”, and the second time followed by “of life”). And if I clear the whole mess and begin again, repeatedly tapping the same button gives me a different string. What is going on behind the scenes is unclear. (Apple did not respond to requests to clarify.)
When this new predictive feature was announced, a few observers harrumphed: offering the next potential word allows a writer to skip the work of choosing words. Well, to choose just one word: nonsense. At the most, iOS8 will allow you to avoid typing some fairly long but frequent words. But it’s not ready to appease your boss, apologise to your spouse or do your homework for you.