I’m a diehard, unapologetic advocate of handwriting input for mobile devices – and indeed, just about any other type of text entry whatsoever – so it’s good to be able to report that Google has finally taken the plunge and rolled out its own handwriting solution, in the shape of Google Handwriting Input for Android. This app clocks in at a download of just over 13MB, at least on my Nexus 7, and claims to support even the most atrocious doctor’s scrawl.

The Google Play Store blurb explains:

Google Handwriting Input allows you to handwrite text on your phone or tablet in 82 languages. It supports printed and cursive writing, with or without a stylus. Google Handwriting Input also supports hundreds of emojis, so you can express yourself in any Android app.

Key features:
• A useful complement to touchscreen typing or voice input
• A fun way to enter emojis by drawing
• Useful for languages that can be challenging to type on a standard keyboard
• Works across your Android phones and tablets running Android 4.0.3 and up
• If you claim your handwriting is terrible, try it out and see if it can convince you otherwise

As stated, this should work with most generations of Android phone, even the most archaic.

Google has had a Handwrite option running in Google search for quite some time now, as a beta feature. I’m not sure if this levers off the same technology, but the implementation here certainly feels anything but beta.

I’ve already installed Google Handwriting Input on both my Nexus 7 and my phone, and so far I can report that it delivers far-better-than-adequate recognition, easily rivaling the third-party solutions I’ve tried before, such as MetaMoJi’s 7notes with Mazec and the MyScript Stylus beta. Indeed, it’s so good that it may end up stealing the thunder from these developers. The only shortcoming I can find so far is that there’s no way to modify the height of the input area, but perhaps I just haven’t found that yet. But it’s free, and fast, and I can thoroughly recommend taking it for a spin.

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Paul St John Mackintosh is a British poet, writer of dark fiction, and media pro with a love of e-reading. His gadgets range from a $50 Kindle Fire to his trusty Vodafone Smart Grand 6. Paul was educated at public school and Trinity College, Cambridge, but modern technology saved him from the Hugh Grant trap. His acclaimed first poetry collection, The Golden Age, was published in 1997, and reissued on Kindle in 2013, and his second poetry collection, The Musical Box of Wonders, was published in 2011.


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