Sunday, December 12, 2010

AI Type offers another option in free word prediction.

It seems like 2010 is making itself out to be the year of free word prediction software. First Google Labs comes out with Scribe; then Ontario educators and students learn that WordQ will be licensed by the province by the last day of the year; now we have the innovative new AI Type. Whereas Google Labs Scribe is an online tool, AI Type is a free download that uses a cloud-based prediction engine, so it works only if you have an Internet connection.

this is me typing using AI Type  software . it's really pretty good, especially when you consider that it's free. Since the prediction engine is cloud-based,  Like Google Labs' Scribe, it can predict current pop-culture phrases; for example, start a  sentence with Lady and it predicts Gaga, or type in Justin, and it predicts Timberlake and Beiber. (Just note that it doesn`t capitalize proper nouns or the start of sentences automatically; you need to hold down the shift key to while selecting the word to have it capitalized.

 I don't like the way it doesn't fix the spacing on the terminal punctuation. however i do like the way you only have to type in some of the consonants in a word; this will help not only dyslexic users, but also people who may have difficulty with typing because of a physical disability.  Being able to set the amount of time and/or the number of characters before the prediction list appears is a nice bit of customization that most people who type fairly well will appreciate . There are other nifty settings, such as being able to automatically disable the program for certain applications. The prediction box and the program in general also look really slick, better than anything else I've seen in word prediction software.

 On the other hand , the coloured bolding of  the letters you type can easily lead to miscues , especially since it has no built-in text-to-speech. Correcting is also a little awkward if you try to backspace on an incorrect prediction choice; the better way is to use the left arrow key to undo the previous selection, then type and/or select again. Takes a little getting used to, but if you end up using it a lot, it will become second-nature fairly quickly. 

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this for people with serious dyslexia; WordQ and Co:Writer are going to be much better in those cases. However, if you need just a bit of help with spelling or typing, this is probably all you'll need.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WordQ 3.0 released

WordQ came out in a new version today, amidst other branding changes for the word-prediction software. The publisher is now called goQsoftware, and they've totally built a new website from scratch.

I downloaded the WordQ 3.0 30-day trial version and had some trouble with missing topic lists that the installer was looking for. The software itself looks almost the same. The SpeakQ microphone is now located to the left of the Words and Speech button in the toolbar, and the Playback button (which I had trouble getting to work properly on my computer) is gone.

Don't expect many new features in version 3.0. Perhaps the biggest new feature is a built-in thesaurus. It works in a similar fashion to the example sentence feature for confusable words: hover on certain words (indicated with a diamond) and a list of synonyms will appear and be spoken by the TTS.
There is an abbreviation expander (found under Options / My Words / Abbreviations) that lets you type in a shortcut for a longer string of text. When this feature is enabled, you can type the shortcut and it will automatically be replaced with the longer string. Another new feature, under Options / Preferences, allows you to choose to automatically launch WordQ on login... a convenient feature which will encourage students who need the software, to use it. The Help menu adds a link to online how-to videos and checking for updates.

For Ontario schools and teachers, version 3 has been licensed by OSAPAC, so it will soon be on computers across the province, replacing Co:Writer as the word-prediction software chosen by the province. The especially great news about this acquisition by OSAPAC is that Ontario students will have the right to install the software on their personal computers.

I didn't get a chance to try out SpeakQ 3.0 (they synchronized version numbers with WordQ by skipping SpeakQ version 2.x), but I don't think there will be too many differences. I didn't see any new features in the User's Guide.

If you already own version 2.x of WordQ (version 1.x of SpeakQ), I don't really see the need to pay for an upgrade. I didn't see any discount for owners of previous versions (granted, the website's only been up for a few hours and that info may be coming soon).

WordQ 3.0 costs USD$199 and WordQ + SpeakQ is USD$279.

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