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.
If you don't use any language with a non-Latin alphabet, you've probably seen at least one of Google's alternative language keyboards and promptly dismissed it. But for a huge portion of Android's userbase, those things are essential tools for daily interaction. Today almost every one of Google's customized input/keyboard apps has been given a major update: Google Hindi Input, Google Japanese Input, Google Korean Input, Google Pinyin Input, and Google Zhuyin Input.
Old on the left, new on the right.
To be honest, none of us at Android Police have need for any of those, so we're not the best to comment on what's been changed or improved.
The SwiftKey developers are getting ready to introduce a version of their popular third-party keyboard with Japanese input support. Prominent features should transition over just fine, with the keyboard still able to make personalized predictions and suggest emoji that it thinks may be appropriate. It will be able to switch back and forth between Japanese and English, making it useful for native Japanese speakers and friends of Japanese speakers alike.
The app is currently in beta, but it's open for anyone to download and try. To do so, just head over to http://www.swiftkey.net/jp. There you can sign up for the open beta and help the team work out the kinks.
Google makes cool stuff. There's self-driving cars, that funky street view camera, and those experimental glasses anyone will be able to buy for one day only tomorrow, April 15th. Yet for every product that comes out, there's another in the pipeline that may or may not ever see the light of day. Last month we learned of a patent application for a pair of smart contact lenses that would process blinks as input for wearable devices. Now Patent Bolt has reported on a separate application for a micro camera component for those lenses.
The first thing that comes to mind here is the ability to take photos using just your eyes.
"Smart contact lens." Get used to that term, even if it makes you cringe - a new patent from Google indicates that at least someone at Mountain View thinks it's a potentially viable idea. Patent Bolt reports on a Google application to the USPTO for "multi-sensor contact lenses," intended primarily as a method for blinking input or input augmentation for wearable devices, or just electronics in general. (Note: this shouldn't be confused with Google's other contact lenses, announced in January as a medical diagnostic device for diabetics.)
The basic idea is that a number of sensors embedded into a contact lens could be used to detect blinks with incredible accuracy.
We generally have a rule at Android Police HQ: we don't post about Kickstarter/Indiegogo projects at least until they've been funded. Too often things turn into vaporware and people's money ends up wrapped up in things like Diaspora that never take off. Today, we're making a rare exception to talk about Minuum, because this video starts off as "Oh, that's kinda cool," and quickly shifts to "Holy crap, that's amazeballs!"
As you can see in the beginning of the video, the concept is fairly simple. It's yet another predictive text input algorithm that allows you to be less accurate when typing.
I'm going to do my best to make it through this article without making a Portal 2 reference, but this new SwiftKey feature is not making it easy on me. After recently announcing Flow, the Swype-like gesture input method, someone inside SwiftKey HQ thought to themselves "Well, you know, this is great and all, but man, what's with all this raising-my-finger nonsense? So inefficient!" So now the company is demoing Flow Through Space. It's nearly identical to the familiar method, only it predicts your entire sentence without the need to start fresh with each word.
Of course, it would be silly to criticize the utility of shaving a few milliseconds off of text input on a phone or tablet.
Samsung's largest life raft smartphone has, thus far, been saddled to AT&T. Phret not phablet phans. Your dreams of using the nation's largest Samsung phone on the nation's fourth-largest national carrier are about to come true (sorry Sprint/Verizon users). T-Mobile has announced that the device will be available on a 2-year contract starting August 8th with pricing starting at $199 on a 2-year Value voice and data plans plus an added $20/month device financing charge. Alternatively, the device will cost $250 on a more traditional contract plan.
Today, T-Mobile announced that the Samsung Galaxy Note will be available at select T-Mobile retail stores and online at www.T-Mobile.com starting on August 8.
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.
There's no doubt that Swype is one of the most popular and innovative keyboard replacement apps for Android, albeit for a somewhat niche market. One of the quirks of Swype, though, is that it's basically made for one-handed input, and some users just aren't into that. Enter a new keyboard called Keymonk Keyboard which basically takes the Swype method of text input and modifies it for two-handed input. Check it out:
Weird, right? After watching the video I had to try it for myself, and I have to say... it's probably as difficult to use as you are imagining right now.