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Keyboard Auto-Correct Coming to Chrome OS — Helpful Addition Or Potential Annoyance?

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Auto-correct in Chrome OS Dev (image: Beaufort)

Imagine having to type more than 140 characters on your smartphone or tablet without auto-correct. It’d be a fiddly, typo-prone affair, right? But would a similar feature make sense on a device with a regular, full-sized keyboard? Chrome OS developers think so.

As a fast but inaccurate typist I find auto-correct to be a definite boon. My copy editor not so much. OS X (Mavericks and up) ships with auto-correct enabled on the desktop by default. It’s a feature I (perhaps) over rely on.

I hammer away in blissful faith, assuming that every crime against spelling that my ill-targeted digits commit will be instantly righted by the computer’s logical brain and read as I intended.

Wrong. Most of my copy has, somewhere, a couple of mangled sentences, a combination of my thumping fingers and an overzealous digital dictionary with a mind of its own. Any article on Wanderlust…Wonder Lost…er, Wunderlist is a good case in point!

Experimental Feature

Now this boon/bane is targeting Chromebooks. A  flag to enable experimental “physical keyboard auto-correction” has been introduced in development builds of Chrome OS (technically it’s been there a while, just hasn’t done anything when enabled).

Googler François Beaufort highlighted the feature just before Christmas, noting — importantly — that it currently only works for en_US languages, not en_GB — my layout.

While Chrome OS allows you to set up multiple keyboard language layouts, and switch between them easily, forcing the language still (for now) appears to do nothing. As such I can’t attest to how well or seamless this feature works nor offer up any screenshots of videos of it in action. Sad times!

Try Chromebook Auto-Correct

But if you’re in the US and want to try it out you can. First flip the following to ‘enabled’. Restart Chrome when prompted.

chrome://flags/#enable-physical-keyboard-autocorrect

Now open a Chrome App like Wunderlist and misspell a word – e.g., “chrme” or “cofee”. Chrome should offer suggestions for the correct term. Press the Down arrow key at the last selection in the pop-over to view more suggestions.

Annoying or genius new feature? That’s for you to deer cider.

Err, ‘decide’.