iOS10: Multilingual assistance increases productivity, reduces frustration
There is always something in a new edition of iOS that catches me by surprise. This time round, the new multilingual advances are really useful and I discovered them by chance.
In the past I have always had a few foreign keyboards loaded — including German which I use a lot — and, of course, the emoji board. Repeatedly pressing the international (world icon) key cycles through these keyboards but it is easy to trigger by mistake during general typing with unpredictable results.(If you have only one keyboard loaded you won't see this icon so no danger of pressing it by mistake).
It was always a nuisance, though, to have to cycle through several boards to get to the one you want.
Often, to avoid changing keyboards, I will type German on the English board. I was surprised therefore, to find that when doing so after installing iOS 10 I was getting German spellchecking and suggested words without having to load up the German keyboard.
Umlauts appear as if by magic. All nouns are capitalised as any decent language dictates. I've always thought that in addition to the danger of carpal tunnel syndrome, Germans must risk suffering from CapShiftItis.
I investigated and found that this is a rather hidden new feature. But there is one downside is that even when typing English you will occasionally get German word suggestions popping up. My experience shows that the system recognises the language being typed but, since so many German words are similar to English words with the same or slightly different meanings, this slight confusion happens more with German/English than possibly with other language combinations. I can live with that for the general overall convenience of the new system.
World view - Weltanschauung
There is another important aid in iOS 10 for the multi keyboard user. If you now hold down the "world" button (which normally toggles through your keyboards) you get a pop-up list of all your input sources. So, for instance, if you are in Chinese and want to move to Portuguese and not Russian, Greek or whatever might be next in line, simply slide your finger to the required language. I've been using the feature and it works really well; it is a big time saver. There's also a useful option to turn off predictive text, something that was previously hidden deep in system menus.
According to this article in Multilingual Mac (which I ought to have read before) iOS10 enables multilingual typing with autocorrection in two Latin script languages at once. There are other language features including additional keyboards (such as Latin-American Spanish) and Siri support for South African and Irish English. Yes, even Siri must have had problems with the Irish brogue (I do hope our correspondent in Dublin, William Fagan, doesn't read this....).
So how does my iPhone keyboard know that I might want to have assistance in German (and not French, Spanish or whatever). I can only assume it is because I have the German keyboard loaded as the second choice. There must be some preference in the case of multiple languages selected.
German kezboard kaputt
The good part of this is that I can now ignore the German kezboard which irritatinglz (among other peccadillos) has the Z and Y reversed with predictablz biyarre results for touch tzpists. I can't delete it, of course, or I will not get German assistance on the English board. But I no longer need it.
For an English-language touch typist the German keyboard is more trouble than it is worth, especially for the individual ö, ü and ä keys which I can never find but I which I know lurk somewhere among the colons and brackets. It's easier to use the English layout and press/hold the vowel key to slide across to the accented modification. But you now need to do less of this thanks to the multilingual spell checking.
It’s these little hidden touches that you tend to discover only over time. Full marks to Apple for making life easier. Typing is becoming easier and definitely more productive on iOS devices than on the Mac keyboard and I am looking forward to some of these improvements coming to the Mac.