Google Translate is easily one of the most impressive tools in Google’s lineup of Android apps, and for anyone who’s been traveling where they didn’t speak the native tongue a stranger in a strange land the ability to almost magically let you communicate around the globe can be invaluable. Today it gains a new way to help bridge that language gap, letting you input text as handwriting.
The update to version 2.3 adds handwriting recognition for Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Japanese and Chinese are the most valuable additions there, due to difficulties in inputting symbols from their complicated character sets. We can see uses for the others, too, especially if you’re trying to communicate with someone who isn’t familiar with typing on smartphones and the app’s voice recognition is struggling with their accent; you can now simply have them write their message out via fingertip on your phone’s touchscreen.
There’s no word on if Google plans to expand this feature to support additional languages and character sets, but we’d be surprised if it didn’t put some effort into fleshing-out handwriting recognition.