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A brush strokeFrom Ace Centre projects

Dasher for iOS


Dasher is an information-efficient text-entry interface, driven by natural continuous pointing gestures. Dasher is a competitive text-entry system wherever a full-size keyboard cannot be used – for example


Dasher is a project that we at the Ace Centre have followed and supported for some time. It was a research/development project stemming from David Mackay’s inference group at Cambridge University  in 1997-2007. It led to numerous iterations and versions with a HUGE array of  input methods – and around 2003 it led to speech dasher; enabling users to use it with text to speech. Ace Centre had supported the project through user trials and evaluation and feeding into the development and design of various aspects (notably with Mick Donegan and David Colven from Ace centre leading this work). (Have a watch of this video and read the Dasher archives for more information on the project.

In 2015-2017 Ada Majorak, a employee of Google, took on the development of the Windows OS version of Dasher and vastly improved some of the day to day features to make it easier for speeches and writing. Ada presented on Dasher at CSUN in 2016 where you can watch a great video explaining how it is used below:

Its still regarded as one of the fastest “continuous” text entry methods (P. Axelsson & A. Onoszko (2013)) and as a result its occasionally looked at for individuals who require fast text entry rate. For some individuals who we have assessed and provided AAC over the years the software has been a huge boon. We have indivduals who continue to use Dasher and use it for their work – with some deciding to use it for all their text entry needs from texting to writing their university thesis.

Around October 2009 Alan Lawrence at the Inference Group developed the Apple iPhone (iOS) port of Dasher. Since then little had been worked on this app – and little was known about if anyone used it.

For a little while Apple have been warning users of their iOS operating system that apps created some time ago (and in particular those that are 32 bit) would not work under iOS 11. Its been ok – under iOS 10 this was just a warning. But under iOS 11 which came out in the Autumn of 2017 these apps were no longer available.

Leo Colins had got in touch with us at Ace (via Mick Donegan at SpecialEffect) to let us know that he was now worried about Dasher working on iOS 11. Leo has used Dasher ever since he met the Ace Centre and used the software for all of his recording needs through school and University. Due to its unique way of working little else could be found that was available on the market place. Usually with unique solutions such as this we would have to go to the company making the software and request that a change be made or that a new version created. With Dasher this is not so straightforward. We reached out to a few commercial developers who have understand the marketplace well (thank you) but understandably they felt it wasn’t something they could take on at this time. Due to the open source nature of Dasher we were able to implement changes ourselves – with minimal changes. These changes were funded by donations and fundraising that we have had in the past.