Google launches searching by ink ahead of Windows 8

Google launches searching by ink ahead of Windows 8

Summary: The Handwrite setting on iOS and Android devices allows input for Google search terms by writing anywhere on the phone/tablet screen. Google has entered the input by handwriting arena, albeit in a limited fashion, ahead of the release of Windows 8 with its similar function.

TOPICS: Google, Android, iOS, Mobility

Google recently added the ability to write on a mobile device screen with the finger to input search terms in the web browser. The Handwrite option is fully integrated into the browser search, including Instant Search. Start writing a search term on the screen and Google starts returning results, no keyboard required.

Handwriting recognition has long been the domain of Microsoft Windows, beginning with the largely failed Tablet PC. Good recognition accuracy depended on the special pens used by the tablets for precision. The introduction of Handwrite by Google is a foray into this territory formerly belonging to Windows.

Google Handwrite is pretty accurate in testing, although anything longer than simple search terms is not practical. Search by handwriting must be enabled in the Google search settings by visiting, and then enabled on a case-by-case basis by tapping the "ink" button on the screen.

The handwriting recognition has shown to be accurate and fast when used on the larger screen of the Nexus 7. It also works well on iOS and Android phones. While on the surface it seems to be a gimick, in practice it is already showing to be practical and useful on mobile devices.

The timing of the appearance of Google Handwrite is probably not by accident. Google is making a statement that ink input is useful for limited purposes, and more importantly that it is cross-platform. You don't need an OS that supports inking, you can do it on both iOS and Android, the two big mobile platforms. No Windows required.

See related:

Topics: Google, Android, iOS, Mobility

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  • So does this mean that Google feels Android is threatened

    by the release of Windows 8?
    William Farrel
  • Thanks

    Thank you for this tip, I hadn't heard about it yet.
    I don't think Anrdoid is that threatened by Windows 8, at least not in the near term. There will likely be some competition, but I am not sure that Windows devices will be able to compete on price for a while with many Android devices. Windows 8 (Pro, RT, and Phone) may very well push the technology and innovate, but they have a ways to go to catch up to Andoid in other areas. The good thing for the consumer is that competition between Apple, Microsoft, and Windows will push newer features to consumers faster. Also, since Microsoft is big enough to take care of itself aginst Apple Patent trolling, it will likely cause Apple to refocus on innovation and away from patent trolling.
  • Back To The Future...

    That's so funny! My PocketPC used to do this 10 years ago.

    And with all the respect this technology deserves, it was an awful way to enter text.
    Keyboards (virtual or not) are much more efficient.

    One can wonder why this is coming back. Stylus anyone?
    • More back to the future

      The Windows Surface tablet pro has a digital pressure sensitive pen. It magnetically attaches to a charging port on the side of the tablet. Not sure if that is in all versions or windows or just the surface tablet.

      but yeah, that is trying to make a comeback also.
  • Come now...

    Android has had the Gesture Search app for years now. This is just an extension of that ability.
    gork platter
  • Headline writing . . .

    Headline writing to grab attention strikes again.

    Not much more to say.