Review: Keyboard and Spell Check in BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0

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One of the original (yet misleading) complaints with the BlackBerry PlayBook was the lack of spell check, auto-correct, or word substitution. Spell check and some form of auto-correct were actually in the Bridged BBM app. Word substitution, auto-correct, and spellcheck were sort of in the Word to Go app. The browser did support some spell checking as well. But the actual problem was that it wasn’t good enough. The implementation also wasn’t universal. With the OS 2.0 release, the PlayBook now has a new, universal smart keyboard.

The keyboard has really stepped up its game. Your fat fingers can once again always count on having software to bail them out. It’s not the same engine that was used in BlackBerry smartphones– its way better. Suggested words can be selected at the top of the keyboard while typing if you’re feeling too lazy to bother finishing your words. And it’s smart enough to get it almost all the time. If you can’t spell, it’ll most likely know what you’re trying to type and fix it for you. When a predicated word glows blue, the keyboard really thinks it has figured out what you’re trying to type already. It even knows Twitter handles and e-mail addresses that you’ve used before.

In addition, before you even start typing the next word, it tries to predict what you’re going to type. So how does it turn out? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities: either I’m very predictable, or this keyboard is damn smart. I’m guessing it’s both.

You can also add words to the PB dictionary. By selecting a word underlined in red in the Messages App, you’ll see a small “+” sign beside the predicted word just above the keyboard. By holding this down, you can add this word to your dictionary. This is great for educating your PlayBook on slang, L33T speak and other languages you may be fluent in.

So where does this keyboard comes from? Well, if you type “Ben” on the keyboard, the first suggestion turns out to be “Medlock”, an easter egg related to the company “Swiftkey”. As one of the popular third-party keyboard developers for Android, Swiftkey is likely to be behind the keyboard wizardry of the PlayBook.

It’s worthwhile to mention that the number keys now pop up when you’re typing out your password (which in many cases contains numbers). This isn’t the flashiest update, but it’s a subtle and welcome. I’ve had to get out of the habit of switching to the symbols keyboard just to type in numbers, but once I got used to having the numbers appear automatically, I felt so productive and it’s something you can really appreciate.






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