Google Handwriting Input

Technology giant Google has now come out with a new application called Google Handwriting Input which allows users to input in 82 languages and also allows users to draw emojis. The application can function as an additional input option for any Android application but is available for devices running on Android 4.0.3 and up.

For Indic languages, I tested the application on Kannada. The application is pretty good in picking up on scrawls and scripts of Indic languages, but what when I tested it out, it faced some difficulty in recognizing a bindu or circle which is used to differentiate phoenetic sounds. The application used to take a circle input for the bindu  as the English “O” or zero. Perhaps something to be worked on. That said, Google did say on its blog that for complex script languages especially in South Asian languages the keyboard is less standardized and may be unfamiliar.

The blog further added that complex ideographic languages might be more difficult to input. ” For example, keyboards for ideographic languages (such as Chinese) are often based on a particular dialect of the language, but if a user does not know that dialect, they may be hard to use,” the post read.

The app requires users to download a language pack for each of the applications offered. You’ll also have to go to settings and enable the Google Handwriting Input keyboard for this to work. The application can also run offline and Google said that it has worked to make recognition models smaller and faster for use in Android handwriting input methods for Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Cantonese, and Hindi, as well as multi-language support in Gesture Search.The application also combines different gestures  to words on the cloud and helps other users with recognition  both on-device and in the cloud (by tapping on the cloud icon) in any Android app.

Other Indic language input applications

– Reverie Language Technologies has launchedSwalekh’, a multilingual keyboard for Android smartphones and tablets. The app supports typing in 11 Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Punjabi and Assamese, other than English. The app allows for three modes of typing, in the native layout, as phonetic typing and in macaronic mode.

– In January, Asus released a new version of its Android keyboard app, adding support for two Indian languages – Hindi and Tamil. The app supports both Android phones and tablets, although its only compatible with Asus devices.

– In October 2014, popular keyboard app SwiftKey had released an updated version of itsAndroid app, adding support for 11 new Indian languages along with Nepali and Sinhala in open beta. The Indian languages now supported are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu, other than Hindi and Hinglish which it had introduced back in December 2012.

– A new Indic Keyboard released by the software collective Swathanthra Malayalam Computing in April last year, allows users to type in 17 Indian languages on Android. This includes Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sinhalese, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and lesser spoken languages like Sanskrit.

KeyPoint Technologies’ text input keyboard app Adaptxt also supports 13 Indic languages, while Nuance Communications-owned Swype added support for Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, and Telugu to its Android app last year and currently supports eight Indian languages including Hindi and Hinglish.