As Cyber Monday was wearing down, Google was already winding up some app updates. A new version of Gboard began rolling out late in the afternoon, and with it comes the long-anticipated handwriting support, meaning we can finally uninstall the separate handwriting keyboard. There are also some tweaks to the emoji picker. As we look to the teardown, there are signs of a new theme system with a few new options for more visual control, a new autospace feature, integration with the Motion Stills app, and more.
Google debuted Android Wear 2.0 at Google I/O last year with a number of great new features, not least of which was a clever spin on the handwriting keyboard. Oddly, the handwriting keyboard was left buried in a hard to find location and had to be activated just to use it. Now that the official Wear 2.0 release is rolling out (kinda), users have reported that this keyboard didn't even come preinstalled, nor could it be found on the Play Store – at least, not until yesterday. The Handwriting Keyboard is now available.
A new version of Gboard hit the stage late Wednesday night, and this one is absolutely packed with great improvements. The toolbar is now configurable, making space for an entirely new tool for editing text and navigating the cursor. One-handed mode now allows for resizing and positioning the keyboard. There's also a stack of newly supported languages from Assamese to Waray. The teardown isn't empty either, as there are signs Google may be planning to merge in the Handwriting keyboard and introduce an Incognito Mode.
If typing is too much effort for you or you don't enjoy pecking at small buttons on your screen, then you might enjoy the art of handwriting a lot more. And in that case, you're probably using Google Handwriting Input (or a similar keyboard) to satisfy all your scribbling needs.
After adding a few languages in its 1.5 update, the app is now receiving more of them in version 1.7 and improving support for several existing languages. The new additions are: Corsican, Hawaiian, Kazakh, Luxembourgish, Samoan, Scottish Gaelic, Shona, Tajik, Uzbek, and Western Frisian.
The app also now supports Android N so you can install it on your Nexus devices if you're running a developer preview build, and has more emojis.
After Google released the Android Wear 2.0 Preview images for the Huawei Watch and LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition, many of us quickly flashed the firmware onto our watches to test out the new features. Most of the major changes are pretty easy to find, and some could even be said to be a little in-your-face. However, we saw quite a few people were confused by what seemed to be the absence of the handwriting keyboard. It turns out that it's just not enabled by default on the preview firmware. While it's not exactly buried, knowing that it has to be activated and where to go isn't very intuitive; so we've made a quick how-to guide for those that got a little lost.
Fans of Android Wear have plenty to be excited about. A major update was just announced during the Google I/O 2016 keynote with many of the features users have been looking forward to. The headlining additions to the platform focus largely on more advanced watchfaces, improvements for messaging, and expanded integration and more automatic use of the Google Fit platform. A Preview program is also being launched for Wear, so developers will be able to work on new apps for the platform before official rollouts begin.
If you want a quick overview of what's new, watch our Wear 2.0 hands-on video.
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.