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back to article Keyboard fatigue? Now you can SCRAWL in Gmail and Google Docs

In an effort to make it easier to enter multilingual text into its online services, Google has added handwriting input support to Gmail and Google Docs. The idea is not so much that you'll ditch your keyboard and use your best mouse-based penmanship to compose emails and documents. Rather, the tools are aimed at letting Gmail …

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Boffin

What usage ?

I have had several devices, touchscreen laptop ( old resistance version), palm, 7" tablet and 5" smartphone on which I am/was capable of writing but unfortunately I never ever found the need.

I have scribbled a couple of notes on the Galaxy Note whilst doing some DIY round the house but it has never gone further than a noting couple of numbers or dimensions.

I honsestly can't think if a good reason for using the handwriting/scribbling that these devices offer. I have never owned a Wacom pad so I do not know if they are the same/better/worse or have other benefits, that's a bit out of scope anyway.

Does anyone actually use the handwriting/scribbling on a daily basis, if so for what usage ? Serious question, I would love to think that there is a usage for which I beneft ony ma current devices.

-------------->>>>>>>> Icon for inquiring mind

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Happy

Practice practice

Not so much writing notes, as practicing writing Chinese characters. This with Google translate on GS4. It is quite reinforcing when you've gotten the strokes of a character close enough that it shows up in the possibilities window. Where else would I get that practice?

Who'd'a thunk it - a tool that can cause native users to forget how to write (b/c constantly using phonetic input method) can also be used to foster learning how to write for students.

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Re: What usage ?

I use it all the time on my Galaxy Note 10 for note taking in meetings. The Samsung software doesn't actually work very well for this, so I just use Evernote with the Samsung OCR keyboard. I find it feels more natural than typing.

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Gold badge

Re: What usage ?

Khaptain,

I'm currently, painfully pecking this out on my iPad's onscreen keyboard. Which is nowhere near as well laid out as any of the Android or WinPho ones I've tried. One hand holds iPad, one types. Because I have to look at the KB, errors creep in, and have to be corrected. In a bloody different part of the damn screen to where the idiot Apple software engineers force you to look to type, because they apparently have never tested their own stupid product. GGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I compare this to my old HP Windows convertible tablet, from 2007. Wacom digital pen held loosely in one hand, I could run the thing by touch and gesture perfectly. But for typing more than a web address, or for precise text editing, or sketches, the pen went to the screen and scribbled away. Bliss!

OK, the machine was too heavy, too hot, ran too loud and the battery life sucked, but I miss that pen, every day that I use my iPad. As Apple have decided to keep prices the same, my next tablet will probably be a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.

My friend designs handmade furniture and kitchens. He has the Galaxy Note 2. He takes a photo of the room, handwrites in the dimensions, and emails to himself and his PA for the project folder. Plus uses it to do his drawings. He says he uses it several times a day. As I recommended it to him, a technophobe, for this very reason, I'm quite pleased.

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Silver badge

Re: What usage ?

Ahhh. Three quite different usages

@Notas : A learning tool.

I am not currently learning any other alphabet, I did learn to read and write Hebrew when I was younger and I can easilly understandy your usage method. Hebrew is nowhere near as complicated as Chinese but as an electronic/instant "character verifier" I can understand how I could have learned to write even quicker. If Google picks up the letter you obviously know that it is well written....

@Samuel : As a personal secretary/note taker.

Why is evernote an advantage, is it simply because Evernote is good a filing things later oe is there another reason. I have evernote bit I have always used the Samsung Apps for handwriting, I hadn't even considered the idea that I could use OCR with other apps, I need to give it a try.

@Spartacus : As a professional note/scribbling tool..

Yes, this was the closest example to what I have already been doing, except that I did not consider the idea of taking photos and annotating them, I always drew a very basic plan and added the dimensions. The final result wouild have been a lot clearer if I had thought of integrating the image.....( facepalm for me).

Interesting to see/learn how others can/do use it. I think I jhave been overlooking the fact that I only use in a standalone manner whereas each of you seem to use it in conjunction with others tools... I need to rethink my strategy.....

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Re: What usage ?

Khaptain,

Some people seem to actively like onscreen keyboards. You can get reasonably fast with them now, so long as you're willing to put up with some errors and then fix them in the text later. Which brings into play the clumsy poking at screen trying to get tablet to insert the cursor in the right place - something else a stylus is perfect at. Although on Android you have the option of Swype, which I've never had the chance to try sadly.

Others prefer the Blackberry style keyboards, which I dislike even more than touchscreen ones, as I have big hands. I guess in my case, it's because I'm a touch typist, so something that looks like a keyboard but I can only 1 or 2 finger type on annoys me. Whereas handwriting recognition is nearly up to full writing speed.

I found, in my tablet PC days, that the sylus was a natural fit in my right hand, between index and middle finger (and base of thumb), leaving my middle finger and thumb free to poke at the screen and do the odd gestures. That was partly the limitations of the old style resistive screens and Vista tablet edition, but mostly I could run it perfectly well on finger alone (until diving into weird settings menus) and the stylus was there because it was comfortable, and instantly available for writing.

There's a lot of ways of pushing notes you've taken through OCR - after you've taken out any diagrams you may have put in at the time. Which means you don't have to faff around in the meeting with concentrating on anything other than getting your notes down and the meeting. And of course, all your meeting notes are now automatically filed in date order - even if you haven't got round to naming the files.

Obviously sketching is one of the perfect uses of a stylus. My friend with his sketching on photos came up because I asked him to build a big corner cupboard for me. Because he was at mine for dinner, and we were discussing design, as well as talking about normal stuff, he rushed his measurements. So I got a call later, and had to do some of the measuring up myself. Whereas he now takes a photo when on site and sketches all dimensions on it, so he can instantly see if he's forgotten anything. Plus the workshop have a photo to consult when it comes to queries when building.

The reason I thought of all this is that we were talking yesterday. He told me that his clients are quite impressed with the shiny Galaxy Note 2 - as most haven't seen a phone that can do this stuff. He said, "they're mostly richer, brighter and have more gadgets than me". I should have commented at the time that I was one of his clients this year, so thankyouverymuch... Anyway yesterday he was with a client, and while she was making a cup of tea, he measured and sketched, took a photo of the antique handle on some piece of her furniture, and was able to send that off to his PA with notes scrawled on it, and by the time the client walked in with the tea, his PA had emailed him back a couple of matching options from their suppliers' catalogues. So he was able to turn to the client and show her the shinies available while discussing design options. This is obviously excellent for impressing clients - and that's probably half of the sale. The fact that he can sketch in 3D and upside down, while explaining a design idea to you is also pretty impressive...

But for a technophobe who struggles with all things computer - and couldn't even set up an iPhone - it's all worked rather well. And I suspect that sketching with a stylus comes more naturally.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What usage ?

" I did not consider the idea of taking photos and annotating them, I always drew a very basic plan and added the dimensions. The final result wouild have been a lot clearer if I had thought of integrating the image.....( facepalm for me)."

Did you not SEE the adverts? Please say that you did and you didn't make a purchase "cause everyone else did"?

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Gold badge

Re: What usage ?

It's all very well making that comment from the lofty heights of Mount Wisdom, Oh Anonymous One. But what you appear to be suggesting here is that he should base his buying decision on advertising! I'd say that having your purchase decision influenced by either peer pressure, or companies' advertising is pretty equal on the no-brain scale...

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Re: What usage ?

@Spartacus

Yes, the furniture example really strikes home the usefullness. A few days ago I took an picture of one of our racks and one of our patch panels, I then connected he note my PC, copied the image made a some annotations on it and then sent it to a coloeague. The idea never once struck me to annotate directly on the note...

@AC

Just for your info, I bought a note for the ability to surf the web on a reasonable sized screen. The fact that it also had the stylus was a bonus. No, I didn't see the ad for the sole reason that I do not possess a television.

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Anonymous Coward

So Google now knows, not just your name, address, DOB, etc.. but your handwriting/voice patterns. What next DNA/blood type/stool samples?

Is there ANY advice the great unwashed actually take?

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