By Alexandra Burlacu | Jul 29, 2013 05:24 AM EDT
Google Translate has gotten a new handwriting feature for the browser version, allowing users to draw phrases when they can't write them on a keyboard.
This aims to make things easier for users who need to translate something with special characters not found on their regular keyboard. While the Google Translate Android app has had this handwriting option since January 2012, the feature is now available via the Google Translate website on a browser.
As Google points out, this handwriting feature would come particularly in handy when dealing with foreign languages such as Chinese. For instance, reading street signs or shop names in China will turn out to be a real challenge for many who don't know the language, but the Google Translate homepage would allow users to simply draw said characters and find out what they mean.
To start using the new handwriting feature for the browser version of Google Translate, simply select the language you want to translate and click the down arrow on the bottom left of the language box. From there, select the "Handwrite" option (pencil icon). A pop-up box will appear, allowing you to draw he phrase or characters you need to translate.
"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."
As for the actual drawing part, users will be able to handwrite what they need using either a mouse or a finger, if the PC is touch-enabled. Google further highlights that it currently has handwriting support for 45 languages, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Google Translate may not be able to decipher those illegible doctor's notes, but it may come in handy in other situations, especially when traveling abroad without knowing the language.
Handwriting input is available in the Google Input Tools Chrome extension as well. Other text input tools in Google Translate include input method editors, virtual keyboard and transliteration. These features are also available in Google products such as Gmail, Drive, Chrome and Android.
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