One of the wonderful things about using Google for search is that you don’t always have to know how to spell things properly, as the search engine learns alternate spellings for things as people search and adapts along the way. Think of it as a living and breathing Dictionary.
You’re all familiar with seeing something like the following when you search for a misspelled word:
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Google used to say “Did you mean XXXXXX?”, but now it corrects your spelling on the fly and does the proper search for you, allowing you to click on your original search if the company got it wrong, which is how it learns and adapts.
One of my early projects at Google was to improve the suggestions that are made when a query is misspelled in Google Search. The neat thing about that system is that it’s adaptive: our suggestions get smarter and smarter based on the words Googlebot sees as it explores the web.
But search isn’t the only place where I make spelling mistakes! And that got me wondering: could we take this adaptive technology and use it to make spell checking better in other places?
The answer is yes. To prove it, today we’re launching an update to spell checking in documents and presentations that grows and adapts with the web, instead of relying on a fixed dictionary.
So Dictionary be damned, Google is going for the more tech savvy approach to fixing the error of your ways when creating documents and presentations using Google’s tools. This is yet another way that technology is replacing what we’ve all come to rely on in the past. No no, the Dictionary isn’t dead, but for all of the typing we all do on the Internet, Google has found a better way to keep us productive.
Instead of doing a typical spell check on a document once you’re finished with it, Google Docs will correct you along the way by providing alternate spellings contextually:
Right now the feature is only available for documents written in English, but the team says that it is working on rolling it out for more languages soon.
I’m hoping that Google unleashes this beast on the Android OS so that my text messages can get the proper spell check treatment as well.