It’s safe to assume that there’s no Web user out there that hasn’t experienced auto-complete. Whether on Google site search and toolbars, Facebook search, or on ecommerce sites like Amazon, auto-complete has become a de-facto usability feature. Its ubiquity means that there’s a very shallow learning curve for users to get accustomed to it when used outside of the browser setting, and that’s exactly what eType is banking on with its auto-complete-as-you-type product.
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Now before you cubbyhole eType as a utility strictly for non-English speakers, here’s an anecdote that may change your mind: There’s an Israeli company called WhiteSmoke, which developed software that enriches written English. The product was originally developed to assist non-native English speakers boost the quality of their writing in emails and such. Lo-and-behold, WhiteSmoke discovered that their main customers were actually native English speakers that bought the software to polish their writing. And they’ve been buying it in droves, for around $100 a pop.
The point I’m making is that native English speakers are very much part of the target audience for eType, and may easily constitute the majority of its userbase.
eType is completely free and a breeze to use. All you have to do is, well, um, type. By default, eType starts auto-completing words on the third letter, but this can be changed up or down. Word suggestions are based on machine-learning and offer the most probable suggestions, based on what the user is typing out. For example, eType is able to take into consideration that the word ‘running’ can have multiple contexts such as ‘running for office’, and ‘running a marathon’.
One thing to remember about eType is that it’s executable client software, as opposed to a browser plugin. The major benefit is that it allows eType to be used across any application, from word-processors, to browsers, to email clients. The major downside however, is that eType currently only supports Windows XP and above. I’m told touch interface support (iPhone/iPad, etc.) availability is expected by year’s end.
While eType can be used across any application, users can opt to disable it on applications of their choice. For example, some users may want to disable it on their IM application.
eType comes with English, Spanish, German French and Hebrew dictionaries. It also offers word translations to and from English to these languages. Definitions are pulled from Wiktionary and there’s even an English thesaurus built right in. New words can be added simply by typing them out naturally. These are added to users’ own personal dictionaries, but are also sent back to eType for review and possible inclusion in the universal dictionaries.
The founder of eType is Israeli serial entrepreneur Daniel Scalosub. He is known for founding DSNR, a web marketing company, along with a couple of sister companies in the same field. This means that eType has significant marketing muscle behind it. Today, eType is where Scalosub focuses his energy.