Apple's mobile devices have a secret list of "sensitive" words that don't autocomplete

The Daily Beast investigated the autocomplete on Apple Ios devices (Iphones, Ipads, etc), and discovered that there was a long list of "sensitive" words that the devices have in their dictionary but would not autocomplete — you would have to type them out in full to get them into your device. This list includes words such as "abortion," "rape," "ammo," and "bullet." They documented their methodology in detail.

According to a Daily Beast analysis, iPhones running Apple's latest software will not suggest corrections for even slight misspellings of such hot-button words as "abortion," "rape," "ammo," and "bullet." For example, if a user types "abortiom" with an "m" instead of an "n," the software won't suggest a correction, as it would with nearly 150,000 other words. (Many modern spell-check and predictive text engines understand that the "n" is located next to "m" on a standard keyboard, so replacing it with its neighbor is the low-hanging fruit of the correction world.)

…But among this list as well are more frequently used (and sensitive) words such as "abortion," "abort," "rape," "bullet," "ammo," "drunken," "drunkard," "abduct," "arouse," "Aryan," "murder," and "virginity."

As a parent, I can understand wanting to limit the autocompletes available to small children. Autocomplete turns out to be a great way to help kids with complex spelling beyond their immediate ability — my five year old, who is able to read simple words, uses autocomplete while searching for and reading lists of cartoons on YouTube, and the additional context of knowing that the drop-down list likely contains the word she's looking for helps her correctly locate it, even if it is not a word she'd be able to read on her own.

But I am not a five year old. I want a device that spells the words I'm trying to type, without deference to potential screaming Fox News/New York Post headlines like "Five year old tries to search for rope, finds rape!"

I'm pretty sure Android does something like this. "Fuck" and other swear-words never, ever autocomplete correctly for me on Android; the article in the Beast goes on to quote an exec from a company that makes an Android replacement keyboard cheerfully admitting that the Chinese version of his product has a list of words not to autocomplete that is mandated by the politburo.

It's not quite censorship, but it's a patronizing, nudging, nudzhing design decision that is infuriating. The lack of transparency is even more exasperating.

The Apple 'Kill List': What Your iPhone Doesn't Want You to Type
(via JWZ)