I recently got a new laptop. A new laptop I super like. However, as the computer I’ve been using for the last five years has a different CPU, a lot of my old software doesn’t run on it. Unexpectedly, this is a huge win, since
The transition meant I either had to ante up for the newest version of Office or find a new word processor. Since I sunk a lot of my free cash into laptop I decided to use Apple’s Pages ($20 vs. $120)
Now that I’m getting used to Pages, I’m starting to think about what would make for the ultimate word processor. There are several features I’d add to both Pages and Word, but the feature I crave today is smarter dictionaries.
Both Word and Pages allow users to add words to the dictionary (I’m not sure if dictionary words in Pages get transferred to the OS Dictionary, which would be cool; in Word they reside with the document, which is nice when, like me, you have characters with purposely misspelled names you wouldn’t want in a general dictionary). However, a database of individual words isn’t very smart. If you make a used-defined word possessive or plural, the database doesn’t know it’s correct. Grammar-checking doesn’t know if the word should be capitalized or how it is used properly in a sentence.
Pages allows me to look up words in Google, Wikipedia or the OS Dictionary with a click. Why can’t it know that Pras is the plural of Pra or that Pra shouldn’t be PRA (as it tells me)? Even better would be the ability to tag words with language, so if I write en español for a few words, it knows español is the proper spelling?
For most users, computers are used to write and edit. It may be in Facebook, email or a blog, but everybody with a computer, smart phone, iPad or even some dodgy $150 Android tablet are writers. Dictionaries should be primary. They should be system-wide and powerful tools that give the user broad power to define how words are used. They should be available in every app you use. They should be able to switch between Arabic, English and Chinese within a single sentence if the user wants or stick with a single language.