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Google launches handwriting feature in Translate service

Google has rolled out its Google Translate handwriting feature for the web, allowing users to draw the phrases or words they need translated when a keyboard can't do the trick.

Handwriting has been an option on the Google Translate Android app since January 2012, but it is now available via the Google Translate website on the browser.

Imagine planning a trip to China, but not being able to read street signs or restaurant names. Instead of blindly choosing a direction or eatery, just draw the given characters on the Google Translate homepage to find their meaning.

To get started, choose the language you wish to translate, and then select the down arrow on the bottom left of the language box. Select the "Handwrite" option with the pencil and draw away in the pop-up box that appears.

"Suppose you see the Chinese expression '饺子' and want to know its meaning in English, but have no idea how to type these characters," Google product manager Xiangye Xiao said in a blog post. "Using the new handwriting input tool, you can simply draw these characters on your screen and instantly see the translation."

You can draw with your mouse, or with your finger if you have a touch-enabled PC.

Google Translate currently supports handwriting in 45 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Other text input tools like virtual keyboards, input method editors, and transliteration were added to Translate early last year.