It can be a pain to type on a virtual keyboard in a language that doesn't use Latin characters, but for the many speakers of Cantonese, Google is here to help. A new Cantonese input app has appeared in Google play to make typing in Cantonese a breeze. Well, maybe not a breeze, but that rhymes better than 'faster and more accurate.'

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The app supports multiple keyboards including Pinyin, Cangjie, handwriting, and voice input. These all support auto-correction and both simplified and traditional Chinese output. Users can also mix English and Cantonese words easily with the new input app.

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The last time Google tackled a non-Latin script was the Hindi keyboard earlier this year, and that seems to have turned out rather well. Let's hope this one works out as well for the mountains of Cantonese speakers out there.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Outrager

    Hey, thanks for the head's up.
    I helped my dad install the Swype keyboard to do Chinese handwriting input on his Nexus 7 before he left for China but this might work better since it also has Voice input. I sent him an e-mail to try it out.
    I hope he knows how to install it then activate it.

    • remister

      Log onto his account and remote install :P

      • Outrager

        Nah. He needs to learn on his own.

    • yobbei

      swype keyboard also has voice input. It works very well too.

  • mesmorino

    Meanwhile, SwiftKey's over there like "oh you think you bad huh. You better watch yo back foo', we run dis game"

    • pfmiller

      According to SwiftKey's website they don't support Chinese at all, so what game is it they are supposed to be running?

      • jellymelly

        the waiting game

      • mesmorino

        The mobile keyboard game. You know, the one where they consistently outperform any other keyboard in terms of sheer functionality and accuracy, AND support more languages than you can shake a stick at, AND allow simultaneous. multi-language entry of THREE languages.

        I would have thought this was stunningly obvious, but I guess you're not a SwiftKey user. In any case, it was supposed to be funny (or at least mildly amusing) and definitely not requiring this much explanation

        • pfmiller

          Yeah, I don't use SwiftKey, It doesn't support Chinese.

          • Billy Wan

            I don't use swiftkey too since it doesn't support chinese, but I bought it long time ago...
            Switched to swype for chinese input and trying this google cantonese input. hope they will add the gesture input to both chinese and english for this keyboard!

          • pfmiller

            It looks like there isn't gesture support in this Cantonese input yet, or did I miss it? They probably branched it from a slightly older version of Pinyin input so it may take a little time to catch up. I'm waiting for the gestures for English in Pinyin input, I imagine it must be close since they have it for Mandarin already.

          • Jon

            How do you get google translate to speak Cantonese instead of Putonghua?

  • Justin Quang

    What's the difference between this and the Pinyin one? Because it doesn't matter whether it's Mandarin or Cantonese, writing is the same.
    The only thing I can assume is that it has Cantonese voice input. If so, why can't they just add it to the Pinyin one instead of creating a new app. Now we have 2 separate keyboards for Chinese input.

    • Chi-Heng Ng

      it's referring to the dual English-Cantonese recognition, as mentioned in this Google+ post (http://bit.ly/17LkGwc). I tried just now for a mix cantonese-english voice input, and it works for me. perhaps it only works for a particular accent? Did it show "Cantonese(Hong Kong)" at the voice input screen?

    • Eric

      Writing in Pinyin requires using Mandarin. Cantonese and Mandarin are different dialects thus they speak differently. If I for example just write "you" in mandarin it would require me to input in pinyin "Ni" because in mandarin it's pronounced as Ni. In cantonese it's pronounced like "Nei", so I can't exactly write Nei in Mandarin Pinyin and expect it to automatically know that i've inputted you. Anyway I installed the app and it exactly just replicates the Mandarin Keyboard except in the pinyin part it's in cantonese which will be awesome for my parents and I :) Hope that clears things up

      • Eric

        sorry to edit but to clarify the writing canjie or character input is the same across all dialects, but not the pinyin.

      • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

        >> In cantonese it's pronounced like "Nei", so I can't exactly write Nei in Mandarin Pinyin

        It doesn't exactly work like that. Yes, you can use "Nei" if you know the standard romanization, but many people don't and they may use Lay, or Nay. This keyboard can also recognize those 2 variations.

    • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

      Very few Cantonese speaking people know the standard Cantonese Romanization -- I can count on how many I know, NONE. Instead, many of us just make up our own romanization by using similar sounding English "words" (that actually don't sound like the Cantonese words.) This keyboard does not rely on the standard, and try to guess what we want to input.

    • A.Garfield

      voice input is part of google voice typing, which is an independent input method. you just need to enable google voice typing (settings -> language & input) and add cantonese or set it as default.

      hint: there's also an option to download cantonese offline speech recognition.

    • AM

      Differences include:

      1. Support for jyutping and yale.
      2. Cantonese characters needed to write Cantonese.

      Although you're right, I don't know why they couldn't just add it to the pinyin keyboard, all they needed to do was to add the Cantonese characters and the romanisation methods.

  • Sander Roelofs

    That time :o

  • hkpuipui99

    This is a godsend. No more handwriting for me!

    • dmleung

      Exactly! can't wait to test it out

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    There's now also a Zhuyin Input app (Bopomofo) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.inputmethod.zhuyin.

    Can Chinese speakers who know more than me tell me if it's a big deal as well? Does it deserve its own post, like the Cantonese one?

    • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

      Probably no. None of the input methods are new. Unlike the Cantonese one, which is quite a big deal 'cause as far as I know, Google is the only one doing it.

    • Chi-Heng Ng

      Zhuyin input (Bopomofo) is popular in Taiwan, as it has a different education system due to its unique political situation. Think of it as yet another method to input chinese character, much like the different mounting system used by camera manufacturers to secure the lense on a DSLR, functionally the same, yet utterly not compatible.

    • pfmiller

      Maybe just update the headline to say Cantonese and Zhuyin input methods added. It could be a big deal for Taiwanese since there was no official Chinese input method for them before, only third party keyboards.

  • dandmcd

    Well, this keyboard is a very, very, niche product. I think most Hong Konger's have adapted to other input methods, so I don't know many who are seeking this kind of keyboard.

    Anyway, I'll make my standard, if Swiftkey would add Chinese, very few would ever need another input method ever again. Please Swiftkey, get it done! I'm so tired of switching between keyboards.