Rachel Metz

A View from Rachel Metz

Keyboard App Swype Could Soon Offer Slang That Varies by City

Keyboard app Swype could soon get hyper-local dialects that automatically change depending on which city you are in.

  • April 24, 2013

How would you like it if you could turn on your smartphone in San Francisco and get a different set of local slang loaded into the dictionary behind its keyboard than when you are in Seattle?

Nuance, the company behind the Swype Android keyboard that lets users type on touch screens by swiping a finger from one letter to the next, is working on it. (Swype also finally landed in the Google Play app store this week).

Swype already offers 20 different dialects for its crowdsourced Living Language feature–which users can switch on to enable the app to automatically add words to their dictionary that are popular amongst Swype users–including variants of English and Spanish. Swype automatically switches from one to another of these dialects depending on which country you’re located in. And Aaron Sheedy, Nuance’s vice president of mobile product, says the Swype team is also working on hyper-local dialects that could do the same thing when you move from city to city.

Sheedy says the company hopes to have the first of these dialects available later this year, though he didn’t volunteer details on which cities Swype is working on.

He notes that there are several challenges, though, such as determining if a word you type is a misspelling, or, say, the name of a place or street in the area you’re currently located. It’s also important to figure out which words are statistically interesting to a lot of people in the same area, and to map out the size of a given dialect area.

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