Google adds handwritten text input to mobile search on Android, iOS

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is expanding its mobile search capabilities with the addition of Handwrite, a new tool enabling users to input queries by writing out the letters with their finger.

Optimized for smartphones running Google Android version 2.3 and up, tablets running Android 4.0 and higher and products powered by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS 5, Handwrite allows users to input searches almost anywhere on the device touchscreen, eschewing virtual keyboards. To begin, consumers access Google.com on their mobile browser and tap "Settings," enabling the "Handwrite" option. From there, users must tap the Handwrite icon in the bottom right corner of the screen to activate the writing surface.

"Write a few letters and you'll see autocomplete options appear below the search box," explains Google software engineer Rui Ueyama. "If one of the options is what you're looking for, just tap it to search. For longer queries, you can continue writing and use the arrows next to the autocompletions to move the right one into the search box. Since you can write anywhere, you don't have to look back and forth repeatedly from the keyboard to the search box."

Ueyama adds that Handwrite is intended to complement typing-based search input, not replace it. When Handwrite is enabled, users can toggle back to the device keyboard at any time by tapping the search box. Handwrite supports 27 languages at launch.

Google Search is among the top five most regularly accessed applications across all U.S. smartphones, Nielsen reports. Services like search and advertising generate the vast majority of Google's mobile revenues: Mobile devices are on pace to account for 25 percent of all paid search ad clicks across the Google network by the end of 2012, according to a report issued earlier this year by Marin Software.

For more:
- Read this Google Blog entry

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