Google have announced a new search feature for smartphones and tablets. The new feature is called Handwrite; it allows you to make searches from the Google search page simply by scrawling the word(s) on your touchscreen with your finger or stylus. You don’t need to install a new program to make it work, just use your regular mobile browser. However Chrome is recommended, as “it works best” according to the Google official blog. There are minimum system requirements which may exclude some of us though. Handwrite is enabled only for iOS 5+, Android 2.3+ (mobile) and Android 4.0+ (tablets).
There are lots of ways to get text into your mobile or tablet, with dictation available on most mobile devices, also Android has a bountiful array of alternative keyboards available. Google say that Handwrite is going to be useful when perhaps it’s not convenient to type or it’s too noisy or quiet (e.g. in a theatre) to use your voice. “Say you’re standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch with your tablet. Handwrite enables you to search by just writing letters with your finger most anywhere on your device’s screen—there’s no keyboard that covers half of the screen and no need for hunt-and-peck typing.” Suggests the official Google blog.
Google emphasise that this is an experimental feature. The guys over at PC Advisor found it to work better on larger screens and “is a dream” with a stylus on the iPad, which is understandable. If your writing is slightly misinterpreted Google’s autocomplete search function is usually good enough to guess what you really wanted to look for.
On a smartphone you can turn on the Handwrite feature of Google.com by scrolling down the page and selecting the settings link. In the settings you will find the option to enable Handwrite, as long as your mobile device has iOS 5+ or Android 2.3+. On a tablet the search settings are found in the upper right corner by clicking the cog icon. Tablets need iOS 5+ or Android 4.0+ operating systems in order to enable Handwrite.
In a related news titbit there is a new Google Doodle on the site home page. The doodle celebrates the Olympics. The Olympics opening ceremony is at 9pm tonight. The three hour spectacle is expected to be watched by a TV audience of up to one billion. Let’s hope that the opening ceremony produced by Danny Boyle, and said to feature live sheep, pigs and goats, is truly a stunning spectacle.