Google Research today launched its latest project: Google Handwriting Input. Besides their voice and favorite keyboards, Android users using Android 4.0.3 and up can now also simply use good old-fashioned handwriting to input text into any Android app.
The new tool recognizes 82 languages and 20 distinct scripts.
My own handwriting is notoriously unreadable, but Google’s new tool even managed to handle most of my squiggly cursive without too many issues. It had virtually no issues with print.
One cool gimmick here is that Handwriting Input also knows how to render your hand-drawn emojis (and yes, it immediately recognized my attempt to bring up the pile of poo emoji).
It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t Google’s first foray into handwriting recognition, but it’s the first time it is bringing support for its handwriting tools to all of Android. Previously, Google already featured handwriting recognition in the Google Translate app, as well as on mobile search and through the Google Input Tool.
How useful this will be in daily use remains to be seen. Thanks to modern swipe keyboards, text input has become pretty fast and accurate on Android at this point. As Google rightly points out, though, there are plenty of languages in which it’s challenging to type with a standard keyboard. Google specifically points out South Asian languages with complex scripts and ideographic languages like Chinese as examples where handwriting input can be easier for many users. Google already offered special handwriting input for many of these languages, but as the Google Research team notes, this new app combines these efforts and allows both on-device and cloud-based character recognition.
The new app is available in the Google Play store now.