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Google Handwriting Input review: The ultimate emoji tool

We review Google Handwriting Input, a new app that adds handwriting recognition into your Android keyboard and even recognises emoji drawings.

Google has just released a snazzy new handwriting recognition app, Google Handwriting Input, which gives all Android users the ability to scribble messages to their contacts, rather than tap or swipe on a conventional keyboard. The app supports input either with or without a stylus (we just tested with our fingers) and recognises an impressive 82 languages over 20 specific scripts.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, it embeds the handwriting functionality into Android’s virtual keyboard, so you can use it to write emails, texts and everything else on your phone or tablet.

Does Google Handwriting Input actually work?

Test one: words n’ stuff

A solid response from Google Handwriting Input here. I tried scribbling all kinds of words, in all kinds of ways, including joined up and all upper case. Even though I was just using my fingertips and even though my handwriting sucks, the tool recognised what I was trying to say almost every time. The only times it usually stumbled involved names and made-up words, where it generally only guessed one or two letters incorrectly.

Test two: Emoji faces

One of Google’s boasts was that the Handwriting Input App could also recognise any emoji you scribble and insert it straight into your text. Well, I tried all kinds of crazy faces and the damn app recognised almost all of them. In fact, the only emoji that flummoxed it was a vomiting face, which is a shame, because how else am I supposed to express myself when Mrs Brown’s Boys comes on the telly.

Test three: Random sketches

This is where I prove how absolutely gash my drawing ‘abilities’ are. My attempt to draw a cat was translated into musical notes, while my pathetic drawing of a dog ended up becoming a gator emoji. As for the, ahem, obligatory man part drawing, this was translated into what looks like a vibrating fist. So at least that one’s pretty much on the money.

Who is Google Handwriting Input for?

So, why might someone need a handwriting app rather than just using the Android keyboard?

Well, for a start it could be very handy for disabled users or anyone who struggles to tap those tiny virtual keys on their phone’s keyboard.

Handwriting Input should also find much love among users who write in script, which is notoriously hard to tap out on a keyboard. Speakers of some of the more complex Asian languages, for example, would likely see a distinct benefit in scribbling out their message, and could see significant speed improvements using the new app, rather than a regular input method.

And if you write in shorthand, it could be a handy alternative to simply scribbling in a notepad app.

One thing to note is that Google Handwriting Input ‘may be able to collect all the text you type’, including passwords and personal info. However, it seems that this only happens if you enable cloud mode by tapping the little cloud icon in the bottom left corner.

How do I download and install Google Handwriting Input?

Providing your phone or tablet is running Android 4.0.3 or later you can install the new app right now and begin scribbling your messages by hand.

If you want to give the Google Handwriting Input app a go, you can head over to the Google Play Store and download it for yourself. Open the app and it will lead you through the simple, straight-forward installation process, embedding itself into your keyboard.

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