Quick version: TextExpander will include a new system-wide keyboard that lets you trigger snippets and thereby expand text.
You’re looking at me like you want the slow version.
First, TextExpander is a utility that is fantastic on Macs and okay on iPhones and iPad. I’ve been working on the new book, Filling the Blank Screen – which is out as an ebook on Friday by the way, paperback next month – and so naturally I have typed that title a lot. I mean, a lot. But when I’m at my Mac, then whether I’m writing the back cover blurb, whether I’m completing a contract, whether I’m discussing the publication in emails, I can just type the letters xftb. Type that and the words “Filling the Blank Screen” are entered for me.
You can work out what the ftb means in xftb. The letters are up to you and the x is just a good habit to get into: few real words begin with x.
Now, I love typing and I love it so much that I ignored TextExpander for years. But it isn’t just for the odd short sentence: I have a bio snippet that after I type four letters, I get 300 words of biography text. A few times a month I’ll be asked for a bio so I type that snippet and then I edit the result to fit whatever is needed or whoever has asked me.
TextExpander also makes sure you are consistent: I don’t do this myself but there are many people who use it to automatically correct regular typing mistakes. So for instance, I keep mistyping “the” as “hte” (I wonder if that’s a cry of hate coming from my soul, as you do) which means I could set TextExpander to replace ‘hte’ with ‘the’ every time I type.
It’s also great for complex yet repetitive pieces of text: once a week I send a certain email to a certain person and I start it with a TextExpander keystroke. That does fill out the email with lots of detail but it also pauses to ask me for the new bits. I fill out a little form that appears and then TextExpander pops all the new bits into the pre-written email and I just hit send.
This is in all ways great.
When you’re on your Mac.
On the Mac, it works everywhere. On iOS it doesn’t. Apple doesn’t allow anything like this to run everywhere so the makers of TextExpander have to persuade app developers to play nice. Many, many do, but not all and not including Apple. So there’s no TextExpander support in Mail on my iPhone, for instance.
Now, Apple announced that iOS 8 will allow app makers to create keyboards. I did not give a damn. Not a monkey’s, not half a monkey’s, I heard Apple say it and it was out my other ear before they finished the sentence. I am fine with the regular keyboard on my iPhone and iPad, fine.
But now Smile Software, the makers of TextExpander, have announced that they will be one of the app companies providing a new keyboard.
And that keyboard will let you expand TextExpander snippets. Everywhere.
This is huge and transforming because now you will always be able to use TextExpander. In anything. Anything.
I’m sold. Can’t wait for iOS 8 now. Go take a look at Smile Software’s announcement which includes a video demo.