Is the autocorrect feature on smartphones truly helpful?


Fact Box

  • Merriam-Webster defines 'autocorrect' as 'a computer feature that attempts to correct the spelling of a word as the user types it.'
  • WIRED credits former Microsoft VP Dean Hachamovitch as the 'inventor on the patent for autocorrect and the closest thing it has to an individual creator.' However, former software engineer and designer Ken Kocienda claims he had 'invented touch screen keyboard autocorrection for the original iPhone.'
  • explains how in the early days of spellcheck, users encountered 'The Cupertino Effect,' a phenomenon involving word processors automatically replacing the word 'cooperation' with 'Cupertino,' a California city where computer headquarters are located.
  • Reader’s Digest cautions that spellcheck doesn't correct: wrong words, wrong names, missing letters, compound words, punctuation errors, redundancy, verb tenses, formatting errors, and words written with all capital letters.

Bethany (No)

The autocorrect feature was invented to make peoples' lives just a little bit simpler, but the jury is still out as to whether or not it has achieved this goal. Sometimes, due to the feature, texts and/or emails are sent with some quite embarrassing mix-ups using words completely unrelated to the sentiment that people are trying to convey. Not only does this confuse the recipient, but sometimes even the sender when they forget the message's original meaning.

As a general rule, most are of the opinion that people should know and use correct spelling and grammar. Employing autocorrect instead of relying on one's own knowledge and instinct can lead to terrible mistakes. Because people are not thinking as much when they hit that send button, one's reputation, credibility, accountability, or even relationships, professional or otherwise, may end up compromised by careless trust in autocorrect.

Aside from the mistakes and blunders that can happen with autocorrect, linguist Sandra Disner laments that the feature actually doesn't help people learn to spell, specifically in cases like 'two spellings, a homophone, like need and knead, or grammatical issues like its and it's with an apostrophe.' Further, writing skills have declined, especially with young generations who have become reliant on devices' spell-check features and the casual tone of texting. Some teachers receive research papers 'riddled with misspellings or written in an abbreviated language.'  

Autocorrect is a tool and should be used as such, but an over-dependence on it can cause more harm than good--especially if one is misconstrued as lacking intelligence or attention to detail.

Martin (Yes)

Many people immediately associate the autocorrect feature with its hiccups--typically impossible and hysterical errors that don't justify its purpose. Yet the real marvel of these mobile text-correction systems is how amazingly good they are. Without autocorrect to clean up our typing mistakes, smartphones probably wouldn't be designed with tiny virtual keyboard keys that are difficult to navigate with chubby fingers. 

Smartphone screens are tiny, which increases the margin of error as you type. Autocorrect uses an inbuilt keyboard dictionary to spell check words, abbreviations, and phrases as you type and automatically corrects misspellings, a function that enables users to increase typing speed. This gives the user time to focus on the next part of their phrase or sentence without worrying that mistakes must be fixed later on.

Autocorrect also features 'autofill,' which saves sensitive identification information that one needs in the exact form--such as addresses or contacts--for future access, saving the user time and frustration. 

Predictive text is another beneficial aspect of autocorrect, allowing for faster short sentence generation. The smart system adapts to your most common phrases and words as you type, enabling you to strike up a conversation on your phone with just three touches.

Thankfully, the autocorrect feature is also fitted with smart filters that prevent profanity or accidental inappropriate language as you chat, saving users from a lot of embarrassment. One of the most famous examples is the use of 'duck' instead of its seedier counterpart. 

Autocorrect isn't without blemishes. Nevertheless, with its smart features and optimized settings, it stands among the mobile world's groundbreaking inventions.

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