With Google Translate's new handwriting tool, users can draw an unfamiliar word or character on their Android smartphone or tablet and immediately get a translation.
"Handwriting input lets you translate a written expression, even if you don't know how to type the characters," says Google's Xiangye Xiao. "For example, suppose you see [a] Chinese expression...and want to know its meaning in English, but have no idea how to type these characters. Using the new handwriting input tool, you can simply draw these characters on your screen and instantly see the translation."
The application is especially useful when encountering words that use alphabets not based on the Latin alphabet, such as Chinese, Russian, or Arabic.
Google initially acquired the first phase of the handwriting tool for Android in January 2012 and has been developing the technology for the past year. In February, it updated the input features by adding new virtual keyboards and transliteration tools. The handwriting tool now supports 45 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Lao, and Yiddish.
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