Google Launches Handwrite for Mobile & Tablet Search – Tips & Tricks


A new mobile browser beta feature called Handwrite allows mobile and tablet users to “write” their search query into the browser, rather than typing on the keyboard when they’re on the go.

Once activated, Handwrite is enabled with a tap on the accompanying icon in the bottom right corner of the search screen. Autocomplete works with Handwrite, so users will see suggested search terms after scrawling a few letters. Users can also write anywhere on the screen; they don’t need to stay within the search box and can write multiple lines of text.

Currently, Handwrite only recognizes printing, not cursive writing. It recognizes both lower and uppercase letters.

Other tips and tricks to make best use of Handwrite:

  • Use a serif when writing the number one (1) and a strikethrough for the number zero (Ø) for more accurate conversion to typed text.
  • Google will add spaces between search terms, or users can tap Space to add them manually.
  • To type a search term using the keyboard instead of Handwrite once it is activated, tap the search box.
  • Handwrite is only compatible with select search pages: it will not work in Google Shopping, News, Flight, or Maps search. It will work with Google Web, Images, and Places search.
  • Google Handwrite will only recognize characters in the language specified in your search language setting. To change the default language, go to “Settings” at the bottom of the homepage or a search results page, select your preferred language in the “Language of Search Results” section, and hit “Save.”
  • Symbols and special characters are supported, including + @ & $ # – * “ : = . , ‘ ! ? ( ) [ ] { } / %.

Each time the user pauses, Google will convert the handwritten text to typed letters in the search bar, making more real estate on the screen for writing.

Handwrite works in both landscape and portrait view, though landscape (horizontal) allows more space for longer queries.

Google also advises, “For longer queries, you can continue writing and use the arrows next to the autocompletions to move the right one into the search box.”

Software engineer Rui Ueyama wrote of the new setting in an Official Google Blog post:

“We designed Handwrite to complement rather than replace typing: with the feature enabled, you can still use the keyboard at any time by tapping on the search box. Handwrite is experimental, and works better in some browsers than others—on Android devices, it works best in Chrome. For now, we’ve enabled Handwrite for iOS5+ devices, Android 2.3+ phones and Android 4.0+ tablets—in 27 languages.”

Google also released a video demonstrating Handwrite:

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