It’s happened to just about all of us at one point or another. You’re on your way to a meeting, hurriedly texting back and forth with your boss or a co-worker, trying to tie up some last-minute details. You attempt to send the message “Don’t forget to bring a big selection,” but unfortunately, you mistype the last word, auto-correct takes over and recovers something you once wrote to a romantic partner, and in your rush, you don’t see the mistake. A moment later, you receive a question mark in reply.

Egg on the face.

While mobile technology has emerged as a powerful communication tool, we’ve all experienced enough moments like this to know that devices such as iPads and smartphones still have a few bugs that need to be worked out. One issue we grapple with is the fact that many devices often provide frustratingly inaccurate keyboards.

The Problems

Mobile devices are undeniably convenient, but their keyboards present a number of problems.

  • They require more concentration than a laptop keyboard: If you’re typing notes on a laptop during a business meeting, it’s still possible to keep your head up and in the conversation. With tablets, however, you have to pull your focus out of the meeting and direct it to your touchscreen. This may only cause moments of distraction, but it can also disrupt the flow of the entire discussion.
  • Autocorrect is wildly inaccurate: As in the example above, autocorrect can sometimes act as a detriment to getting your point across, and in some cases, embarrassingly so. Autocorrect systems are usually programmed to learn a user’s typical typing behavior, and then apply it to all communications. If you’re in the habit of sending sexy emails to a partner or exchanging lewd texts with friends, don’t be surprised if autocorrect starts inserting words in business-related messages that have no business (pun intended) being there.
  • Typos aren’t always picked up by autocorrect: A single mistaken word can completely alter a message’s meaning. For example, “I hope he does” and “I hope he dies” signal very different outcomes for the poor guy in question.
  • Button placement is cramped or poorly designed: Have you ever pressed “send” too quickly? One millimeter off, and all of a sudden, your message is going off half-finished, or worse yet, with placeholders or notes that you intended to remove before sending.

I’m sure we could add more complaints to this list, but these are some of the most common. Luckily, several companies are developing solutions.

The Fixes

There are a number of options available to those of us who are interested in switching out our ineffective keyboards — and reducing our chances for humiliation.

  • Bluetooth keyboards: These are becoming some of the most popular tablet accessories on the market. Not only are they great for improving typing accuracy, but many vendors are designing them so they act as protective cases for tablets when they’re not in use. Downsides to these keyboards include their ability to drain tablet battery, the need for their own charge, and the fact that they’re just one more thing to lug around.
  • Third-party keyboards: There are a number of third-party keyboard solutions available on Android smartphones and tablets that provide a start to a cleaner typing experience.
  • Fleksy: Currently in beta, Fleksy will allow users to type without looking. It’s available for Android and will soon be available for iOS devices.

While no solution is perfect yet, we can expect to see increased typing accuracy as mobile devices are further developed. As they become more error-free, smaller devices such as tablets will begin replacing laptops as our primary computing tools. Already, they’re nearly equal in processing power. Soon, the need to lug around a bulky laptop bag for work or while on vacation will be a thing of the past.

Until that day comes, however, make sure you keep eye on that autocorrect.