Gesture Search launched for Android

Android users can now search their smartphones by simply drawing a letter on the screen. Draw an "A," for example, and all items that start with an "A" will appear.

Gesture Search for Android smartphones
Gesture Search for Android smartphones Google

Google is giving Android users another method for searching their smartphones: finger-drawn letters.

The company has launched a new app called Gesture Search, which lets Android 2.0 users find items by drawing a letter on the screen. Draw an "A," for example, and all contacts, bookmarks, applications, and songs that begin with an "A" appear on the screen.

Neatness doesn't count. If your handwriting is sloppy, and your "A" looks like an "H," Gesture Search will bring up items that start with "A" and "H," according to Google's official blog. If the search finds the right material, you can scroll down the list to open a specific item. If not, you can erase the letter and start again or write more letters to refine the search results.

Gesture Search is also smart, according to Google. It can learn which items you search for and retrieve the most, and bring them to the top of future search results.

The new app is being targeted as an alternative to other Android search methods, such as Search Suggestions by Location and Search by Voice. But there are a couple of limitations with Gesture Search. It supports only Android 2.0 or higher. And for now, Gesture Search is available only in English and in the United States.

In response to the future of Gesture Search, a Google spokesperson said, "This is just the initial launch of a Labs product. We started with Android 2.0, supporting English in the US, and today we actually made it available worldwide. We're interested in making the app available for more users by, for example, launching it on earlier versions of Android or expanding to more countries and languages, but we have nothing to announce at this time."

Updated 4:00am PST to include response from Google.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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