Need to Google something on the go, but find your mobile keyboard too inconvenient? Don't fret.
Not content with announcing an ultra-high speed broadband service, Google has also introduced a nifty new beta feature to its mobile search page called 'Handwrite' that lets you write down search queries with your finger (video below). The feature is available in 27 languages and works on Apple devices running iOS 5 and above, phones running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and higher, and tablets running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or better.
"Handwrite enables you to search by just writing letters with your finger most anywhere on your device's screen — there's no keyboard that covers half of the screen and no need for hunt-and-peck typing," Google software engineer Rui Ueyama wrote in a blog post Thursday.
Interested? Here's how to get it. Head over to Google.com with your mobile browser, click on "settings" at the bottom of the screen, then enable Handwrite. After you have saved the setting, you might need to refresh the page to see the feature. But not so on tablets, where the search settings menu can be found behind the small gear icon.
Once the feature is enabled, simply click the cursive "g" Handwrite icon located on the lower right-hand side of the screen to activate the writing surface. Then, you can write your search on the screen.
After you write a few letters with your finger, you'll start to see auto-complete options pop up. If you run out of room while scribbling a longer query, just wait a second and Google will clear the screen and let you continue writing.
"We designed Handwrite to complement rather than replace typing: with the feature enabled, you can still use the keyboard at any time by tapping on the search box," Ueyama wrote.
Because the feature is experimental, Google warned that it will work better in some browsers than others. For Android devices it works best in Chrome.
Also, Handwrite only recognises "legible" characters, so those with chicken scratch tendencies might not get the best results. The search giant recommends writing search queries in straight block letters.
Google has posted a Help Center article with more tips and tricks on how to use Handwrite.