After yesterday’s GTalk outage, Google appears to be on a roll today. In addition to the huge Google Earth update for iOS, Handwrite has also been unveiled a few hours ago. Handwrite is not an app, it is just a feature that has been added to Google’s web interface for smartphones. For now, Handwrite supports iOS and Android devices, and if you enable it on your phone, you will be able to write your queries in the search engine rather than typing them. This use of freehand scribbling certainly improves the time in which you can search for a particular keyword, and is more convenient than typing. If you are already making up your mind about Handwrite and all its potential downsides (not the least of which is the fact that people will have trouble entering longer queries), then wait a little more and read the rest of the article. Google has thought of just about everything.
Handwrite has been added to the Preferences page of Google’s mobile version, and is disabled by default. To make it work, launch any web browser on your iPhone, iPad or Android device and go to google.com. Once you are there, hit the Settings button located at the bottom of the webpage. The Handwrite option is nested between SafeSearch Filters and Recent Locations. Just choose the Enable option and then tap the Save button at the end of the Settings page. This will bring you to Handwrite mode. While in this mode, the whole screen becomes your drawing pad, and you can scribble your query without the fear of inadvertently clicking a link or activating the text box. The problem of entering long queries has been tackled by Google by allowing users to write in chunks. Simply put, if you want to search for AddicitiveTips using your handwriting, just scribble “addic” and wait for it to appear in the search box in the form of typed text (doesn’t take more than a second). Once it’s there, you are free to write the next part of the word or sentence, and it will show up next to the previous entry. If you want to put a space between some words, use the spacebar provided at the bottom of the screen. The backspace button next to the spacebar lets you remove any erroneous entries from the search box.
Even in Handwrite mode, you will get Google’s popular autosuggestions, and it is possible to tap any suggestion to view its search results. Similarly, tapping the search box brings up the keyboard for typing your query. In case you want to exit Handwrite, hit the ‘g’ button located at the bottom right corner of the screen. Handwrite works on Google’s results page, as well as the main search page.
Handwrite is not available for all smartphones yet (we couldn’t find it on any of our Windows Phone devices) but most iOS and Android phones/ tablets should be able to use the handy new feature.