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By 27 July 2012 | Categories: news

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For those who have grown up with the traditional way of inputting text via handwriting, rather than typing, there may well be a natural impulse to want to scribble on their tablet or mobile device.
 
It seems as if Google has these people in mind with the launch of its newest search feature, Handwrite.
Handwrite, which is in beta version but accessible today on both Android and iOS devices, enables users to write the word or sentence they are searching for using their natural handwriting on Google’s homepage.
 
First however, ‘enable handwrite’ has to be checked in the browser. Doing this is easy and quick; merely visiting www.google.com via one’s mobile browser and clicking on settings, (or on tablets, on the small gear icon) and then checking ‘enable handwrite’ will suffice.  
 
The write way to search
 
Once done, a new cursive ‘g’ icon will appear; clicking on this will then activate the handwrite feature, and users can scrawl their search terms. One feature we particularly enjoyed was the fact that Handwrite enables one to write their search terms anywhere on the screen, with these automatically showing up in the search box.
 
Google has advised users to write as legibly as possible to ensure quick results and few recognition failures. As one writes, predicated results appear, which users can then tap to enter.
 
Additionally, when engaging Handwrite, dedicated space and backspace keys are on offer, and a small X icon enables one to start over. Tapping the cursive g returns one to the normal keyboard input.
 
Getting testy
 
In some initial tests of the feature on multiple devices, we found that it worked surprisingly well.
 
On our iPad 2 (iOS 5.1), Handwrite worked particularly smoothly and accurately in the Chrome browser, mostly because the larger screen size of the tablet enabled us to write with our finger without feeling restricted by space, and Google Handwrite translated our handwritting with the fewest mistakes.
 
On our Galaxy Note, running Android 2.3.6 and employing the Dolphin browser for Android, we had almost as good of a success rate.
 
Sadly though, Handwrite requires iOS 5 on iPhones or iPads and up, Android 2.3 and up on phones, and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) on Android tablets to run. This meant that our Galaxy Tab 10.1" tablet, currently on Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and still longing for the long-promised Ice Cream Sandwich update, was left out of our tests for the time being.   
 
To the point

Nonetheless, the new feature is certainly a welcome one, particularly for those who tire of pecking out their search terms and would rather employ handwriting as a preferred means of text entry. For Google’s search offering, and more importantly, for tablet and smartphone users, it is a step in the ‘write’ direction.   

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