If you installed iOS 11.1 on your iPhone or iPad there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the problem where typing “i” changes to “A,” or some other character like a question mark in a box. Yes, it’s a bug, and there’s a work around until Apple releases an update to fix it.
Here’s how to fix “i” automatically converting into another character when you type on your iPhone or iPad:
- Launch Settings on your iPhone or iPad
- Tap General
- Select Keyboard
- Tap Text Replacement
- Tap the + in the upper right corner to add a new Text Replacement shortcut
- Enter I (upper case letter I) in the Phrase field
- Enter i (lower case letter i) in the Shortcut field
- Tap Save
Now when you type the letter “i” by itself in a sentence, which should autocorrect to “I,” you’ll see what you expect instead of an alternate character taking it’s place. That’s kind of a crazy work around, but it makes sense when you think about how computers keep track of letters and symbols.
When the character replacement bug cropped up a few days ago, type expert and long time Mac journalist Glenn Fleishman commented on Twitter that it sounded like a Unicode problem. In simple terms, think of Unicode as a giant grid full of letters, numbers, and other symbols. When you type a letter your computer, smartphone, or tablet knows where to look in that grid to find the corresponding symbol to display on screen.
Glenn’s comment got me thinking that maybe iOS 11 is looking in the wrong place in the Unicode grid when auto replacing lower case “i” with upper case “I.” If so, we should be able to side step the bug by telling our iPhone or iPad exactly which character to use with the built-in Text Replacement feature.
Once Apple rolls out an update to fix the bug you can delete the Text Replacement entry—or maybe not, just to be safe.
Update 11-06-2017: It seems someone at Apple had the same idea as me. So that’s some nice validation.
Update 11-07-2017: The bug is fixed in iOS 11.2 developer beta 2, which means this will all be behind us as soon as Apple rolls out the update for everyone.