Here is a small but nifty update for Google Translate for Android: the app now features experimental handwriting recognition for Chinese and Japanese characters. You can also enable this feature for English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, though it’s likely going to be more useful for trying to figure out the meaning of that Japanese written in Kanji than to translate a Spanish word.
In this new version of the app, a new handwriting icon will now appear next to the already familiar microphone that activates the speech recognition feature in the app. As Google notes, speech recognition can often come in handy, but “sometimes you don’t know how to say what you want translated, sometimes you can’t type it, and sometimes it’s easier just to write it.”
The Google Translate team also notes that all of the actual handwriting recognition happens in the cloud. Thanks to this, Google can continually learn from your inputs and tweak its algorithms without having to update the app itself.