Apr 20, 2015
I’ve said it before, and said it often: cottoning to a virtual keyboard was the only way I was able to leave the relative security of physical QWERTY devices and try out Android.
It has been smooth sailing ever since. Mostly. Still, I have a soft spot for keyboards, even if I feel fairly vested in my current option. And even as the third-party options delightfully expand, I love how they push Google’s own options.
And then we get Google Handwriting Input.
The concept is basic: one uses a finger to write, and the app converts it to digital text. When activated, it acts like most other keyboards, and pops up from the bottom. Instead of keys, the entry tool is made up mostly of a writing area, and other buttons that control sundry items, as well as a space bar at the bottom. After activating, “writing” is a cinch; tracing with one’s finger allows the app to interpret the entry and to place it in the appropriate entry box. Right above the trace area, word suggestions are provided, and can be selected if the initial guess is wrong. The program recognizes simple punctuation too.
Non-cursive writing works best based on my testing. The blockier the entry, the more accurate the program seems to be. It does multiple languages too, which is an added bonus, and there is a conventional keyboard that can be invoked from within the app.
My biggest fuss has to do with spacing. It’s a cramped going in portrait, and only slightly better in landscape… even in phablet-sized devices. Obviously, there is gonna be a trade-off been accuracy and sizing of the input area, but I did come away with the feeling that it works best on tablets.
Weirdly enough, even though the capture process does its thing, I’m faster using a swipe keyboard. This is due to the slight delay that occurs while the app recognizes an entered word; these add up.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t find this option intriguing. Despite the growing pains, it feels like a relatively well-thought out concept, and it works well in real life.