6 Simple Tricks for Typing Texts Faster

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Those of us who are old enough to remember taking typing classes in high school may have found ourselves wishing that there was a similar course on texting. Typing on a smartphone keyboard can be clunky and time-consuming, but you can learn how to text faster, regardless of whether you have an iPhone or Android device. Check out the hacks and shortcuts below for a few pointers.

1. Add text shortcuts.

Save yourself the hassle of typing out long words by adding shorthand keywords. For iPhones, the built-in example is “omw,” which automatically changes to "On my way!” You could set it up so that “def” changes to "definitely," “bc” changes to "because," and “asap” changes to "as soon as possible." Gadget Hacks suggests saving your email address as “@@.,” and you can also create shortcuts for your favorite emojis. If you’re using iOS, select Settings, then General, Keyboard, and Text Replacement to add your own shortcuts. If you have an Android device, choose Settings, then Language & Input, Keyboard, and finally Text Shortcuts.

2. Hold the spacebar to move your cursor around.

So you just reread your text and noticed a glaring typo—it happens. If you have an iPhone, it’s far easier to hold the spacebar and slide the cursor from left to right or up and down instead of trying to drag it to the exact spot in your text where you made your mistake.

3. Double-tap the spacebar to add periods.

It isn’t necessary to toggle between keyboards to add a period to the end of your sentence. All you have to do is double-tap the spacebar. If you have an iPhone, make sure you have the “.” shortcut feature turned on by going into your keyboard settings. If you have an Android device, make sure the Auto Spacing function is turned on.

4. Add punctuation more easily.

Question marks and exclamation points are tedious to add, but there’s a simpler way. Instead of tapping the “123” button in the bottom left corner of your iPhone to toggle between keyboards, hold the button with your finger and then slide to the key you want. Once you release, it will automatically return to the alphabet keyboard.

5. Shake your phone to undo typing.

Instead of holding the backspace key any time you’ve made an error, just shake your iPhone. It will ask you if you want to undo your typing.

6. Install a third-party keyboard.

If you’re looking for a keyboard app to improve your texting speed, Google’s Gboard (for Android and iOS) is a popular choice. It lets you “glide” to type faster, and also has functions to help you erase text quickly and easily search for GIFs. With the Gboard, you can move your cursor by holding the spacebar, much like the built-in iPhone function. Other reliable options for keyboards include SwiftKey, Chrooma, Fleksy, TextExpander, and Swype.

Google Creates First AI Doodle for Bach’s Birthday

Google
Google

Although there’s some debate about Johann Sebastian Bach’s exact birth date, today is roughly the 334th anniversary of the famous composer’s birth. In celebration of Bach’s contributions to a genre that would later be called classical music, Google created a Doodle that lets users create a song in Bach’s signature style.

Google has created musical Doodles before, but what sets this one apart is that it’s the first-ever Doodle powered by artificial intelligence, according to Newsweek. In this case, users create a simple melody by choosing their preferred notes on a musical staff, then increasing or decreasing the pace (measured in beats per minute, or BPM) or changing the key, if desired. Once satisfied, all they have to do is hit the “harmonize” button and let AI create a more sophisticated tune.

Fortunately for Google, there was a lot of material to draw from. Bach was a busy man, creating more than 1100 compositions in his lifetime (while also finding time to father 20 children). However, for this Doodle, a machine-learning model called Coconet was fed a portion of his oeuvre—306 harmonies in total. In addition to being trained to recognize the musical patterns in Bach's work, the model is also capable of creating harmonies, smooth transitions, and compositions from scratch.

“So when you create a melody of your own on the model in the Doodle, it harmonizes that melody in Bach's specific style,” Google explained in a statement. And just for fun, there’s a feature that lets you hear what the harmony would sound like in a modern rock style.

For a behind-the-scenes look of how the Bach Doodle was made, from both an artistic and technical perspective, check out Google’s video below.

[h/t Newsweek]

What's the Difference Between a Router and a Modem?

iStock.com/Grassetto
iStock.com/Grassetto

Despite using it every day, the internet is still a mystery to many of its users. If asked to explain how your home internet connection works, you may start with your router and modem. Both devices are essential to setting up a wireless network, but they serve distinct functions. Here are the major differences between the two pieces of hardware that make home internet run.

What is a Modem?

Cable modem.
iStock.com/sambrogio

The modem is your home's gateway to the World Wide Web. It's often a skinny box with a row of LED icons on the front that tell you if it's on and connected to the internet. The name is short for modulator-demodulator—a phrase left over from the days of dial-up when modems worked by modulating telephone signals into frequencies that could send digital information.

Today, most modems use broadband connections like cable or satellite to transmit data. There are different types of modems built to fit different connections. If your internet service provider (ISP) uses cable or fiber internet, you'll need to plug a cable into the back of your modem, and if you still use a digital subscriber line (DSL), you'll have to plug in a phone line.

What is a Router?

Internet router.
iStock.com/farakos

You can connect to the internet with just a modem as long as you don't mind plugging your device directly into the Ethernet port. But if you want to provide internet to all the laptops, desktops, and smartphones in your home at the same time, you'll need a router.

Routers usually lie flat and have antennas sticking out of them. The router hooks up to your modem via an Ethernet cable and acts as a conduit between the direct internet and your home network. After connecting your devices, the router "routes" your modem's networking traffic their way, either through Ethernet wires or wirelessly through Wi-Fi (that's what the antennas are for). The router also works in the other direction by routing data sent from your computer back to the web.

Why Knowing the Difference Matters

When they've been sitting in the same spot in your home for years, it's easy to think of your router and modem as basically the same thing. But it's worth knowing the difference—especially if you care about improving your internet connection. Now that you know the router is what directs Wi-Fi signals, you can boost your home network by placing it in a central location away from electronic appliances. And as long as it doesn't interfere with the router, feel free to hide your modem behind a houseplant.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, send it to bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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