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Google adds handwriting to mobile search site

For budding fingersmiths

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Fondleslab not getting enough love? Google has unveiled a new way to tickle your favorite shiny object, in the form of handwriting recognition for its search homepage.

With the new Handwrite feature enabled, punters who visit Google.com with their mobiles can draw with their fingers anywhere on their device screens and have their writing converted to text in the search box, the Chocolate Factory announced on Thursday.

The new feature works only on the mobile version of Google.com, and then only for handsets running Android 2.3 or later, tablets running Android 4.0 or later, and Apple devices running iOS 5 and up.

The handwriting recognition works in addition to the onscreen keyboard, rather than as a replacement for it, and it can be switched on and off via the Settings menu, located at the bottom of the homepage.

The search giant says Handwrite is good for when you're "standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch" – and presumably anywhere else that fondling seems more appropriate than tapping.

Your Reg hack tried it out on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and although the digital ink trailed behind his finger a bit and his shaking hands couldn't manage better than a crude scrawl, he can report that the software did a fair job of recognizing letters and it was not squeamish about profanity. ®

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