Co:Writer Universal

App review by
Ashley Kemper, Common Sense Media
Co:Writer Universal App Poster Image
Assistive keyboard has specific suggestions, wrong guesses.

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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 is a bit better than the built-in autocorrect, it can help students with writing and spelling.

Ease of Play

Learning curve to choose the appropriate dictionary and connect the keyboard through the setup features of the device. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Co:Writer Universal is an assistive keyboard that predicts what kids are trying to type despite common spelling errors. It connects users to more specific terminology (chemistry, biology, historical, and so on) to help writing flow more fluidly for kids. 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 UNIVERSAL 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 child. For kids who typically struggle to spell words or become frustrated with the guesses of the built-in autocorrect, this app will help. Users can either type directly into the Co:Writer Universal 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. The read-aloud tools alone 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 last screenshot for example), kids can have the app read the words aloud to find their errors. Though the subscription 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 can help them learn. Does this app make writing easier? Why, or why not?

  • Families can also talk about how different words should be used for different types of communication. How is writing for school different from texting friends? Why is it different?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, spelling, writing
  • Skills: Tech Skills: using and applying technology
  • Pricing structure: Free (about $60/year subscription fee)
  • Subscription price: $60 annually per kid
  • Release date: February 12, 2016
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 21.80 MB
  • Publisher: Don Johnston Incorporated
  • Version: 2.0.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later

For kids who love spelling and writing

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