Feature Friday: Slash

I’ve been using this third party keyboard on my iPhone called Slash. I met the company at Techstars NYC this week. They are part of the current crop of companies.

It turns any text input field on your phone (messenger, email, twitter, etc) into a command line interface.

This short video from Dennis Crowley’s tweet shows how it works in iMessage.

You can slash foursquare, soundcloud, youtube, spotify, and many other resources to help you quickly send web content and other stuff around.

It’s yet another example of the return of the command line interface.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Anne Libby

    Kudos to Nick Barr & Co!And I might have missed this here before, but another example of the command line interface I love is Duck Duck Go’s ! search.

    1. fredwilson

      Imagine if DDG had a third party keyboard for iOS and Android

      1. Alex Iskold

        The beauty of Slash is that 3rd party is easily pluggable. I believe this will be exposed shortly. Anyone will be able to customize slashes and add their own.

      2. Anne Libby

        Automatic “yesssssss.”

  2. William Mougayar

    Hmm. Is there an Android equivalent?

    1. pointsnfigures

      The never ending saga on AVC. Android v Apple. Someone should write a geek soap opera.

      1. Anne Libby

        Or, an opera!

      2. Jess Bachman

        As an Andoid user, it’s a geek tragedy.

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Up vote for neat play on plays

      3. Matt A. Myers

        I could see this making for some good character dynamics in the show Silicon Valley.

        1. pointsnfigures

          we should crowd source a script.

    2. fredwilson

      Not yet

  3. Twain Twain

    Ok before anyone else gets to this IFTTT, I’m claiming ! as my key value function.We’ve already had @, #, /, +, $.! will be for gestures, by the way.

    1. Stephen Voris

      Hmm… what would the overhead be on using a gesture as such a key value? Would be marginally faster than getting to “!” on a virtual keyboard, and prime the user to further gestures, but I can certainly imagine possible issues with always-on bandwidth or unintentional gestures. Not sure whether the former isn’t already handled, though, and the latter should be solvable with a well-chosen key gesture (e.g., starting your gesture-commands with an opening fist).ASL speakers might have a few tips on this, as well.

      1. Twain Twain

        It’s a joke! Why would we even need a keyboard with gestures?!

        1. Stephen Voris

          What, can’t a guy take a joke and run with it? :)Speaking of running with it, as for needing a keyboard, it’s not like gestures have replaced handwriting, even (or especially) for sign languages – different languages are good at (and for) different things. Just try reciting e.e. cummings’ “l(a” out loud, or writing out the first stanza to Tom Lehrer’s “We Will All Go Together When We Go” – neither mode can wholly replace the other. So, keyboards will likely lose primacy, but they’ll hardly go extinct.

  4. LIAD

    now that is smart.infinitely extensible, supercharged keyboard.me likey.

    1. fredwilson

      Me too

      1. Twain Twain

        On the same day Twitter launches polls…Is Twitter team, especially Antony Noto who wants to poll who’d win between Clinton vs Trump, aware the UK Polling Council and Market Research Society has launched an enquiry into the flaws of polling?* http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/u…Is Twitter team also aware of this:* http://www.forbes.com/sites

        1. Twain Twain

          I had some simultaneous lightbulb moments long before UK Polling Council and the Market Research Society decided in 2015 to investigate the flaws of existing polling and surveying systems which have been with us since the 1930s, and long before folks started to point out the flaws of “Big Data”.Those lightbulbs were:(1.) Global financial crisis = signal:noise in data systems problem.(2.) Dad’s passing from coma = signal:noise in brain problem.(3.) Machine Intelligence stupidity = signal:noise in data of Neural Nets problem.(4.) Signal:noise in Dad’s brain is similar to signal:noise in Global Brain that is the WWW.(5.) Signal:noise in data & Machine Intelligence problem = Probability is inadequate tool for measuring and modeling human subjectivity (in language, relationships, why we buy, economic modeling, and more).=> PROBLEMS ARE WIDE & DEEP.=> NEED TO INVENT NEW TOOLS.=> GO ASK DA VINCI FOR ANSWERS.And so I did.My system invention is VERY VERY different from Twitter Polls, Google Consumer Surveys, WPP market research approach on advertising effectiveness and existing approaches to Machine Intelligence, Natural Language, economic modeling and consumer data.It sets out to solve what Yann le Cun, Facebook’s Director of AI, says is: “This is one of the biggest, most complicated scientific challenges of our time.” (http://www.popsci.com/faceb…Well, since I’m going to be working until I die, I may as well apply my brain and code hands to making something meaningful and cool! Haha.

          1. Alejandro Weaver

            Allow me to show^ you a different way you can make a lot of money by completing basic tasks online from your couch for few short h /day / Check it out on following site … http://thisisthesolutiontoallyourfinancialproblems*@(*%(*(&@%&&^&*^%*&%&*%&^%&^%///////.,.,.,,,.,.,$#$#$@$@$#@#@$#@$#@$#$#@#@

  5. Cam MacRae

    When you download and enable Slash Keyboard, you will see the following alert:“Full access allows the developer to transmit anything you type, including things you have previously typed with this keyboard. This could include sensitive information such as your credit card number or street address.”This alert appears whenever a new keyboard is installed on iOS. Slash does not transmit or store any personal information.Instead, Slash Keyboard uses Full Access to do a few things:Access the Internet, which is required for services like Foursquare, Weather, Spotify, etc.Log language data, in an anonymous format, which helps Slash improve autocorrect and autocomplete.Log crash data, in an anonymous format, which helps us improve the product.In the course of operating the Slash Keyboard, Search and Share will also collect (and/or receive) the following types of information. You authorize us to collect and/or receive such information.From Your Activity. In an ongoing effort to improve the Slash Keyboard, we may automatically collect certain information when users access and use the Slash Keyboard. Such information includes, without limitation, IP addresses, browser type and language, referring and exit pages and URLs, date and time, amount of time spent on particular pages, what sections of the Slash Keyboard users visit, log files, and similar information and data.From Cookies. We collect information using “cookie” technology. Cookies are small packets of data that a Slash Keyboard stores on your device’s hard drive so that your device will “remember” information about your use. We may use both session cookies (which expire once you close your web browser) and persistent cookies (which stay on your device until you delete them) to help us collect this information and to enhance your experience using the Slash Keyboard.From You. You may voluntarily provide us additional information about yourself that does not identify you personally, such as your gender, country, product and service preferences, and other.Search and Share does not monitor, recognize, or honor any opt-out or do not track mechanisms, including general web browser “Do Not Track” settings and/or signals.The Information Collected by or Through Third-Party Advertising CompaniesYou authorize us to share information about your activity on the Slash Keyboard with third parties for the purpose of analyzing, managing, reporting, and optimizing your use of the Slash Keyboard. These third parties may use cookies, pixel tags (also called web beacons or clear gifs), and/or other technologies to collect such information for such purposes.Nope.

    1. LIAD

      every android app asks you for permission to access everything and do anything and pass it to anyone.i long stopped worrying about such things.we made a deal with the privacy devil a long time ago. we just need to man up and own it.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Many people feel as you do, but I get the sense we are now on the cusp of going in completely the opposite direction.

        1. LIAD

          my money is on the opposite.direction of travel is laissez-faire.”take what you want, just please don’t hurt us”

          1. Cam MacRae

            Entirely possible we roll in different circles.

          2. LIAD

            wish i had a circle!basing this purely on my own sense. no evidence.just see it as a battle we cant win, so people will just stop trying.

          3. Jess Bachman

            i don’t see it as a battle to be one or lost, but rather a swinging pendulum. Technological innovations will continue to advance, moore’s law, but societal attitude towards those innovations swing back and forth.People will flock to a viable alternative, when one exists.

          4. LIAD

            Disagree. Privacy us like a genie. Once its out the bottle. Never going back in.

          5. Jess Bachman

            Will have to agree to disagree then. I have no experiences with genies, but I know we can put privacy back in a bottle and encrypt it.

          6. LIAD

            Agree to disagree! That’s not how it works. We duel to the death.- once someone realises they don’t really know which apps/cos have access to their location, photos, call logs, etc etc. – that becomes the new norm and we move on.It will happen with medical stuff next. Blood pressure and the like. We will just forget who has access, work out we can’t stop the tide and just move on.

          7. Jess Bachman

            “Norms” don’t steadily progress on rails like technology does. It’s not like bell bottoms became the new norm, and were forever part of our fashion ensemble.The new norm is just the current norm, that’s all.

          8. LIAD

            60s. sexual revolution. we ain’t ever going back.privacy is a revolution too. will be the same.time will tell.

          9. Jess Bachman

            Yeah.. sexual revolution… now excuse me while I go shame some people in the Ashley Madison hack.

          10. LE

            That’s not how it works. We duel to the death.Yes! Like Roman Warriors. Glad to see someone of the same tribe with that attitude! Bibi would never give up like that. Only the weak get frustrated and throw in the towel that easily. Not the way I was raised. When daddy is done with the debate that is when the debate is done.

          11. Fernando Gutierrez

            I want to be with you in this one because I’m more concerned about privacy everyday and many people around me feel the same way, but unfortunately I think we are niche. Maybe we need to sell privacy in a different way.Funny side note: In John Oliver’s interview to Snowden he suggests to talk people about governments having access to their nude pics and how that completely changes their reaction:https://www.youtube.com/wat

        2. kidmercury

          gonna have to side with both parties and call this beef a draw. platforms (in this case, app stores) will grow in power and will be more stringent in who gets to participate. consumers will be more lax, but only because they are “outsourcing” their data management to the platform on which they participate. this suggests some potential challenges with cross-platform interactions, though that will be sorted out in time.

      2. Richard

        The important demo for this issue is women 21-35. My take is that they will win this fight.

    2. harvestgrand

      Yeah I played with it for 2 min then turned it off. I do not want yet another group of unknowns sifting through my texts.

    3. Richard

      What so bizarre about this is that flash prides itself on being a prediction engine. How about predicting when I am about to type my credit card, when I am about to share something personal and NOT saving the input?Lazy innovation

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        That would be great. I used Swiftkey in Android. Its prediction engine is amazing and it switched automatically between languages, which is super convenient for those of us who use more than one language. However, it even stores what you type when browsing in incognito mode (incognito should be a cue easy to understand!!!), so I took the painful decision to stop using it. It sucks, but when a program does that in your desktop we call it keylogger.

  6. pointsnfigures

    I installed it and will try it. this would be cool if it also worked in email.

    1. markslater

      it does. the big difference here is that they are taking an OS approach to the keyboard – not an application approach…….this is a big deal.

    2. LE

      With email you could easily end up with an “open mike” issue. That’s when you miss something that autocompletes and send it by mistake. For that matter this can be a problem with texts as well.

  7. JamesHRH

    Neat to see it come back, but I don’t think it is for everyone.

    1. aminTorres

      The iPhone also is not for everyone.

      1. K_Berger

        The “not for everyone” that is the typical iPhone user is probably not the same “not for everyone” who will appreciate this keyboard.

  8. scottythebody


  9. bsoist

    I, regrettably, missed the discussion on Sunday. I never left the command line, but I noticed some time ago my daughter using spotlight as the start to almost every activity on her iPhone – and then the same thing when she got her Mac.Slash looks like it’s worth a try. Trying it out today.I am also loving the way iPhone usage is evolving. The limitations have driven users and developers back to the *nix philosophy – text driven and apps working together.

  10. Matthew Hunt

    Fred what is your take on the privacy policy? Seems like a potentially backward step from the benefit of encrypted iOS messages, though the benefit trade-offs are clear.

  11. jason wright

    it’s like sex.

  12. jason wright

    “We have not received enough ratings to display an average for the current version of this application.”not for much longer.

  13. markslater

    We play in this sandbox as a commerce API – although our booking API is not inherently “social” and the bookings you complete with us you don’t necessarily share per se – but this keyboard represents an early foray in to the wechat world of contextual commerce.Lets unpack this a little.The rumblings of how mobile is a direct threat to Google’s search business are best captured today when you think about this and other contextual commerce approaches. Where in a mobile world your chat application becomes your browser, and that browser is armed with your location and your social graph, the distance to the action you are seeking to complete, or the answer you are looking for gets A LOT shorter. That shortening is a direct threat to the CLI that built the google mountain.API’s are going to surface actionable capabilities with your mobile browser – that browser is likely a chat interface and the capability payload – at least slash’s bet – is a smart keyboard.Whether that turns out to be the case (the keyboard) or not is the bet that fred and people will noodle over…We had a good chat with Nick Grossman last week about this.But what is clear to us is that the web search model, and the AD business built on top are most definitely threatened by this.

  14. Graham Connor

    Incredibly good, but no one will use it. People with smartphones don’t want to be “told”

  15. OurielOhayon

    yes it is very nice and super well executed. but it does not trump the basic need i need i personally have with a keyboard which is text prediction and accuracy in multiple languages. And for me Switkey is for now the winner. the ideal would be a combination of both

    1. Ana Milicevic

      Yes! I find that SwiftKey + Whatsapp works quite well. While not exactly a command line interface, I can add location & other frequently used thing into conversations quite easily and frequently w/ a couple of taps.

  16. jason wright

    keyboard, or slashboard?

  17. Francois Royer Mireault

    Wow. Feels like discovering Twitter in 2008.

    1. Jess Bachman

      So… what are you eating for lunch?

  18. Sebastien Latapie

    That is by far one of the coolest keyboard extensions I’ve seen. Testing out now.

  19. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Very cool. Gives a person ideas!

  20. jason wright

    this does not please me. it’s the iOS syndrome.

  21. jason wright

    something like a 21 bitcoin computer and slash. and so then a bitcoin wallet with a command line keyboard. what will be google’s black swan?

  22. Stephen Bradley

    I love it conceptually, but my keyboard is my interface to the datasphere and I’m no more willing to move away from my keyboard of choice than I am to swap phone platforms for a single app. Slash is a great idea, but it needs to be keyboard agnostic.

  23. fredwilson

    nothing you can’t catch up on in a few mins