App review by
Ashley Kemper, Common Sense Media
Co:Writer App Poster Image
Content-specific assistive keyboard has high price tag.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to spell content-specific words and hear choices read aloud. Because this keyboard's prediction targets topic-specific vocabulary, it can help students with writing and spelling.

Ease of Play

Selecting a topic-specific dictionary can be difficult at first.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Co:Writer is an assistive keyboard that predicts what kids are trying to type despite common spelling errors. It is similar to the school version of Co:Writer Universal but can be purchased for a one-time price for complete access to the tools. The app connects users to more specific terminology ("chemistry," "biology," "historical," and so on) to help kids select and spell content-specific vocabulary words in their writing. With one finger, users can swipe left to right to have the tool read each word aloud to them, which may be especially helpful for kids who struggle to differentiate between similar words (such as "create" and "creative"). Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

Kids begin typing words, and the CO:WRITER keyboard guesses which word they're trying to type. Then kids can swipe over the suggested words to hear each one read aloud. The specialty dictionaries help the device anticipate content-specific words. At the end of each typed line, the keyboard reads the line aloud. This can be adjusted to read each word or character aloud, based on the age and needs of each kid. Users can either type directly into the Co:Writer notepad and save or share their sentences, or they can use the assistive keyboard in a word-processing application or web browser.

Is it any good?

The specialty dictionaries and read-aloud feature may make word prediction easier for some kids, but it doesn't always offer the right words. This is especially true of words that have multiple suffix endings (such as "-ing," "-ed," or "-es"). The read-aloud tools alone in Co:Writer can be game changers for many reluctant readers and writers. As kids type, the read-aloud feature will vocalize by word, sentence, or paragraph, depending on user settings. Although some words aren't always predicted appropriately (see screenshot for example), kids can have the app read the words aloud to find their errors. Though the high cost and inaccurate suggestions make this an imperfect tool, it's a solid resource for kids who get caught up in spelling errors or finding the right word when writing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how technology like Co:Writer can help them become better writers. Does the app make writing easier or faster? Why, or why not?

  • Talk about why you might use specific words for different topics. Why is it helpful to use content-specific vocabulary (such as "atoms" or historical place names) instead of more generic ones (such as "that thing" or "that place")?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love writing and spelling tools

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