Handwriting recognition on a mobile device has never been perfect, but Google’s new feature on Android and iOS phones may be a clue to their future product intentions.
Google has recently added a feature to its mobile homepage on Android and iOS devices called ‘Handwrite’. As the name suggests, Handwrite allows you to search the web (through Google) by using your own handwriting as an alternative to typing in the keyboard. It’s not enabled by default, but just follow the simple instructions below on how to enable Google handwrite on either Android or iOS.
1. Open Google in your device’s browser. It works with (but is probably no exclusive to) the stock Android browser, Chrome and Safari.
2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and press settings
3. Find the ‘Handwrite’ option and select enable. Scroll to the bottom of the settings page and press save to return to the Google homepage.
4. Notice the small Handwrite logo at that hovers at the bottom right corner of the browser. Pressing this enables you to search with your finger – just draw away and the letters will automatically fill into the search bar. You can either write letter by letter or fill in a whole word at a time. Note the space bar and backspace key next to the Handwrite logo.
While the Handwrite feature is a nice addition to Google Mobile’s feature set, like many new Google features, it doesn’t work that well. Often letters appear incorrectly which can only be solved easily if you draw your letters perfectly, serifs and all. Another gripe I have is how thick the pen line drawn on the screen appears. This causes me issues if I try to write long words, even on a 4.3″ screen. Therefore this feature will work best on larger devices such as the 7″ Nexus 7, especially if you use a stylus allowing you extra precision with your writing. In spite of the lack of polish, this is hopefully the prelude to a new feature which could be introduced to a future version of Android allowing an alternative typing method. The video below is Google’s demonstration of Handwrite.