Web-based handwriting recognition

Today, Google announced handwriting recognition for Gmail and documents on Google drive. I am writing at least some of this post with the feature.

"Hello world" written in Google's handwriting recognition system.
The handwriting input box in Gmail and documents with Google Drive.

Some of my first reactions while trying Google’s handwriting system in English:

  • The digital “ink” lags significantly behind my touches or mouse drags. This makes my handwriting look very poor.
  • Despite the atrocious handwriting that I produce with the system, the recognition is very good.
  • The recognition engine will fix spelling mistakes.
  • Because both the ink and my fingertip are relatively thick, I write relatively large print in the input area.
  • Sometimes I run out of space to write a word, especially because my writing is so large. This means I have to go back and make corrections.
  • It might not be able to read a signature, but it fairs reasonably well with carefully written cursive.
  • I am amazed at how well this works in a browser using web applications.
  • Typing on a real keyboard is much faster for me.

For most people who use computers regularly, handwriting is slower than typing. Even so, there are some users who may find handwriting to be a good or even preferable text entry option, especially those writing in languages which are not so easy to type.