Apple to Fix Its Ducking Autocorrect in iOS 17

WWDC2023 iOS 17 keyboard green background Credit: Apple
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Hallelujah, autocorrect on the iPhone is finally getting a ducking improvement. No longer will iOS automatically insert “duck” or a similar substitute for the corresponding salty swear word.

Starting with iOS 17, Apple’s autocorrect will use artificial intelligence to learn your habits and insert the word you intended to use. You will be free to speak your mind and not embarrass yourself with an autocorrect faux pas.

At the heart of Apple’s new technology is a neural network known as a transformer model. Formally introduced by a team of Google researchers in a 2017 paper titled “Attention is All You Need“, the transformer model learns the context and meaning of the words you type. This form of artificial intelligence monitors the words you use and studies the relationships between these words. It looks for patterns, considers the context, and analyzes how you structure your language. The more you type, the more it learns and the better it gets at predicting your input.

Previously, Apple’s autocorrect matched the spelling (or misspelling) of words with a dictionary. Hence, the reason why the word f*#k would often be replaced with the very similar word duck. The new AI-powered autocorrect instead looks at the context of what you’re typing. A major leap over simple dictionary matching, the smarter version of autocorrect will try to match the meaning of your writing. It’s a significant difference that, according to Apple executive Craig Federighi will make autocorrect “more accurate than ever.”

Apple also confirmed that the autocorrect in iOS 17 will let you revert its correction simply by tapping the word that was changed. It’s a small but convenient feature that will let you select duck when you really are talking about the waterfowl.

All these changes and more will roll out this fall when Apple officially releases iOS 17 to the public. If you want to check out iOS 17 ahead of time, the beta version is available to those in the developer program. Being an early adopter is exciting but it does have its drawbacks. Keep your primary phone on stable public releases and play around with the beta on an extra phone you have kicking around.

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