Gboard Unveils Handwriting Capability for Tablets and Foldables

Google's Gboard keyboard app now lets tablet and foldable users write by hand in text fields. Handwriting gets converted to typed text automatically.

Gboard began rolling out the new functionality in recent days. It appears on select Android devices running the latest Gboard beta.

Supported models include Google's new Pixel Tablet, Samsung Galaxy tablets, and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 foldable phone.

To access the feature, open Gboard settings and toggle on “Write in text fields”.

This explains the gestures for common edits like deleting words or inserting new text. Users can launch a demo to practice before writing for real.

When enabled, a small floating toolbar hovers over text fields to handle actions like sending input or pulling up the emoji picker. Folks can reposition this panel anywhere on screen or dock it to a side.

Gboard Handwriting
Gboard Handwriting
Gboard Handwriting
Gboard Handwriting

Writing feels quick and natural as Gboard converts the previous word while you start the next. Recognition works smoothly overall based on early testing. Clever gestures streamline edits without needing an on-screen keyboard.

The news follows Android 14 adding native stylus support in the operating system. Google clearly optimized its keyboard for pen input in tandem. The capabilities resemble Apple's Scribble on iPadOS that also handles Apple Pencil writing.

Gboard still gradually activates the new functionality via server-side update. If the option doesn't appear immediately in settings, try ensuring the tablet or phone has the latest Gboard beta and a strong Wi-Fi signal.

The rollout demonstrates Google's commitment to improving software experiences involving external styli.

As Samsung already enables handwriting systemwide through its own keyboard, Gboard catching up makes using your favorite input method convenient.

Handwriting joins Gboard's strengths like smart composing, multilingual support, and universal emoji search.

– Tom Bowen