Google faces many interesting challenges with Android Auto. It seems like a simple task to build an interface that is less messy and more enjoyable than existing in-car systems. Given the low bar set by most existing platforms, this doesn't sound very difficult. However, Google is taking advantage of more advanced technology and clever design so Auto isn't just another small iterative step forward. A teardown of the latest update shows some interesting progress on new input methods that don't require as much attention and a parking assistant feature that remembers where you left your vehicle.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (application packages) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information.
Google's Handwriting Input got its independent Play Store listing back in April and has since received very few updates. That's why the latest version bump to 1.5 (and the subsequent 1.5.1 release) seemed to be significant and in fact, it added 5 new languages to the list of existing 82 languages. These are Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hebrew, and Burmese.
You will have to download language packages if you choose any of these input methods inside the app, but once that's done and enabled, you will be able to scribble on your screen in your language of choice and Handwriting Input will convert that into text in any app.
Update Wednesdays are always exciting, but particularly so when Google releases a new app. Today, Google has hit "publish" on Google Handwriting Input, a new keyboard option that - as the name implies - allows users to type by handwriting text in 82 languages.
Google says the app supports print and cursive, written with or without a stylus. If you draw a smiley face, Handwriting Input will even suggest emojis.
Of course the input method is styled to resemble Google's other input methods, using the same light grey and teal (or dark blue-grey and teal if you choose the dark theme) colors found in Google's main Keyboard app.
You might be familiar with the MyScript Calculator, which lets you jot down math problems and solves them on the spot. It's creepy accurate, and now that same technology has been applied to note taking with MyScript Smart Note (for tablets only). It works best if you've got a stylus, but even a finger is accurate enough for this app to figure it out.
For a while now Microsoft developers have been working on adding handwriting support to the Android app. The feature, which appeared in the newly released beta app last month, lets users add notes in a way that is sometimes more convenient or useful than typing. Writers can use their fingertips or a stylus and then tweak their notes with a number of options. The feature is particularly useful for scribbling thoughts in the margins of a scanned document.
Handwriting support is good to see, but to really take advantage of it, users are better off with a larger device. So Microsoft has used this opportunity to roll out a tablet-optimized UI.
The latest Evernote beta lets you take notes the old-fashioned way. No, you won't have to deal with tangled up spiral notebooks, but if you have a stylus or a tiny finger, you can doodle away illegible sprawl like the best of them. Just tap the pen button in the note editor and you can jot down text you will kick yourself for not typing when you're wondering three months from now if that is an "M" or an "N." Or is it a "W"?
The team is currently working on added highlight, table, horizontal rule, and encrypted text support in the editor.
The previous apps from Vision Objects have been a little magical – they had better handwriting recognition than a lot of expensive desktop software suites. MyScript Stylus brings that handwriting recognition to all apps by replacing the keyboard on your phone or tablet.
MyScript Stylus gives you a small writing space where the keyboard usually is. Whatever you scribble in there will be turned into text and dropped into any field on the device in real time. It also makes use of intuitive gestures to edit text. The app supports an incredible 54 languages at launch, including several that use non-Latin characters like Traditional Chinese and Hebrew.
In its endless attempts to make searching easier for everyone, Google has introduced yet another way to search via its mobile site at google.com: handwriting recognition. If you go to Google's search page from your phone or tablet's mobile browser and enable the feature via settings, you can now scribble your searches on the screen, even after receiving results. It's pretty fancy!
Of course, this does raise the question of whether this input method is any faster. In the video above, in an attempt to show how this might be used, we see a man who has had nearly all of his fingers broken scribble the words "ski lessons" on the screen.
When you were in school, you were told you need to learn how to do math the hard way because "you won't always have a calculator on you". Well, while we now know that your math teacher was about as good at forward-thinking as the dude who said no one would ever need more than 640k of RAM, there has still always been the problem of more complex expressions, including using constants, fractions, exponents and whatnot. Well, while this app won't replace your education on how those concepts work, MyScript Calculator lets you draw your problems rather than type them, making it much easier to get answers to less-than-straightforward expressions.
The Streak name, then, does evoke a bit of a grimace for most folks familiar with Android hardware. The Streak 5 wasn't much of a winner, either - particularly because it shipped with the ancient Android 1.6, and had an OS update delay that could only be described in Samsung proportions.