Autocorrection or false-positive generator? One of Mac OS X Lion’s weakest features

The transplantation of autocompletion/correction from iOS to the Mac is not one of Apple’s brighter ideas, and one of the eye-rolling non-features in Lion. There are glaring problems here. They shouldn’t be bragging about it. Googe for “apple lion autocorrect” and you’ll find lots of “how to disable autocorrect” blog posts and general bitchery about it. Bitchery like this…

It just doesn’t work

This technology is obviously much more suited to a technological environment where typing is slow and mistakes are an inevitability — i.e. on iPhones! Even in that context, errors are so rampant that hilarious autocorrection gaffes have become an internet meme.

(My personal best? Tried to text “gnight” to my wife a while back, and iOS autocorrected that to “gun fight.” We’ve been telling each other “Gun fight, sweetie!” ever since.)

For any reasonably skilled typist on a full keyboard, this “feature” is simply a false-positive generator: there are far fewer mistakes to correct in the first place, and way more incorrect corrections. The resulting ratio of useful to wrong corrections is very ugly indeed.

Autocorrection is hard

Angels fear to tread here, and Apple obviously didn’t take the challenge seriously.

Autocorrection seems much technologically easier than it is. In fact, it is not a trivial computing challenge, and — like speech recognition — absolutely requires significant user customization to be effective. You really just can’t do autocorrection unless there is also a convenient mechanism for teaching it your ways. Apple has not provided a mechanism for this. In my work writing about pain science and injury rehabilitation, I use countless specialized and idiosyncratic terms. If I left autocorrection enabled in Lion, I would be driven mad. Fortunately, it is easy to turn off.