March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 06.02.05

Smartphones that Understand You

If I calculated on my hands the sum of all the text messages I have ever sent, I wouldn’t even come close to running out of fingers. And it’s not because I possess a vast number of fingers. Got only 10, like everyone else. I abandoned text messaging about an hour after I got my first cell phone, after sending a couple of messages. It was so frustrating having to push a button several times to enter a character, and I just didn’t feel like spending two minutes typing, “Hi, how are you?” For the same reason, my phone calendar hasn’t even one event.
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By Rita Kushnir




My interest in text messaging was resuscitated by Decuma Alphabetichandwriting recognition software from Zi Corporation. I tried it on a Sony Ericsson P800, and I was immediately impressed with its handwriting recognition capabilities: From the first character, it had nearly no problem interpreting my martian handwriting. The software is very naturally integrated into all applications that require text input, such as Internet, phonebook and calendar, and it’s ready to launch at the tap of a stylus whenever it is needed. The only thing I had to adjust to was separating letters; a word in longhand is interpreted as one letter. This felt slightly unnatural at first but became second nature in about 30 minutes. It’s possible that there is a setting that makes unbroken multiple characters recognizable as separate letters, but I wasn’t able to find it in the program’s preferences.

My favorite part about Decuma is that if you notice one mistake, you don’t have to clear all the subsequent text. In fact, you don’t even have to delete the mistake. You simply write the correct character(s) over it and it fixes itself! Another very intuitive feature is your ability to cross out a word or a letter just as you would on paper and it clears right away. Inserting spaces or missing characters also requires only one simple gesture. In addition, you can create shortcuts for the words you often use so that entering one shortcut symbol displays the whole word or even an entire phrase. Decuma differentiates between uppercase and lowercase characters, digits, symbols and punctuation marks without changing the input mode, which makes entering text similar to a pen and paper experience. I immediately bombarded a friend with a series of useless messages simply because it was so easy to do so.

Decuma Alphabetic is compatible with Sony Ericsson P800/900/910 series Smartphones and will probably expand its range of devices. It recognizes 15 languages, and I’d recommend it to anyone with a Smartphone.
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