I've written about the problem of typing Swiss German text on virtual keyboards. In short, since there are no spelling rules for Swiss German, and since there are many vastly different dialects of the language, auto-correction does more harm than good. But since Swiss people often mix German and Swiss German in written communication, simply turning auto-correction off is also not a good option.

As part of her Master's degree at ETH Zürich,1 Laura Peer has developed an Android keyboard that solves this problem. The keyboard, called Kännsch,2 analyzes the text messages stored on the device it's installed on. Together with a prebuilt database of words that different dialects have in common, this analysis allows the keyboard to accept Swiss German text without wrongly correcting words. In addition to that, the keyboard is extremely aggressive in learning new words, which allows it to quickly adapt to each individual user's writing style.

The keyboard sends usage data to a team of researchers at ETH. The words used by each individual user, along with the user's location, allow the team to continually improve the keyboard, and optimize it for local dialects.

You can read more about it on the ETH News section (in German).

  1. My alma matter↩︎

  2. "Kännsch" means "do you know?" ↩︎

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designed for use cover

But wait, there's more!

Want to read more like this? Buy my book's second edition! Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web is now available DRM-free directly from The Pragmatic Programmers. Or you can get it on Amazon, where it's also available in Chinese and Japanese.