Google recently launched a intriguing new feature that lets you write out search queries on touchscreen phones and tablets, including Android handsets and Apple’s iOS devices.
Once you activate the feature, you can start tracing letters and words anywhere the main Google search page. As you do, Google will analyze your scrawls and start plugging words into the search box.
You can write both upper- and lowercase letters, as well as symbols such as “@,” “&,” “$” and “—”. Cursive isn’t recommended, but Google managed to do a decent job at interpreting my (admittedly shaky) cursive script.
As you’re writing, you’ll see a row of buttons at the bottom of the screen, including a help button, a space bar, a backspace button, and a button marked “G” that toggles the handwriting feature on and off.
You can also call up the keyboard at any time by tapping inside the Google search box.
Here’s how to turn Google’s handwriting feature on:
- Visit the main Google home page, then tap the Settings link near the bottom of the page on your smartphone. Using a tablet? Tap the gear icon in the top-right corner of the page, the tap “Search settings.”
- Scroll down to the “Handwrite” section, then tap “Enable.”
- Tap the blue Save button at the very bottom of the page.
Had your fill of Google handwriting? Just go back to the Google search settings and switch Handwrite back to “Disable.”
Not a fan of tracing letters with your finger? Well, you could always try a touchscreen-friendly stylus, which worked pretty well for me on a smaller smartphone screen.
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