Search your Android phone with written gestures

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 | 5:15 PM

As mobile phones become increasingly powerful and can store more data, we've introduced new methods of search to get you to your content faster, such as search suggestions or search by voice. But sometimes, typing to get to the right search suggestion takes too long, and you may be in a quiet environment where speaking a query is inappropriate. Today we're pleased to announce Gesture Search, a new Google Labs application for Android-powered devices running Android 2.0 or above in the US. Gesture Search lets you quickly find a contact, an installed application, a bookmark or a music track from hundreds or thousands of items, by simply drawing alphabet gestures on the touch screen.

Say you want to call your friend Anne. Just open Gesture Search and draw letter “A”, and Gesture Search returns a list of items that have words starting with “A”. If your handwriting isn't all that neat, that's okay. If the "A" you draw looks a bit like an "H", as seen in the bottom left corner of the screenshot, "H" results will be brought up as well. If needed, you can also erase a query by crossing it horizontally: left to right erases the entire query, and right to left removes the last letter or space in the query. Now you can either scroll down the list to find Anne or write more letters to refine the search.



Additionally, Gesture Search improves search quality by learning from your search history, so Anne's contact info will jump to the top of the list the next time you write "A".

To download Gesture Search, search for it in Android Market. You can get more information on our Google Labs page. And as this is a Labs launch, we are particularly eager to get your thoughts and feedback in the comments below!

Update 2:19pm Pacific Time 3/4/2010: Gesture Search only supports English letters, but is now available for download in all countries.


Update 10:19am Pacific Time 3/17/2010: Gesture Search is now available for Android 1.6.

Posted by Yang Li, Research Scientist

60 comments:

AhynesG1 said...

Another app that leaves anyone running 1.5 or 1.6 behind...

Brian said...

Even more proof that Google is amazing!

Dave said...

Can't find it in the Android Market. Is this limited to US only or any other crazy restrictions? (using Nexus One running 2.1)

AhynesG1 said...

"Today we're pleased to announce Gesture Search, a new Google Labs application for Android-powered devices running Android 2.0 or above in the US."

So yeah... I guess your out of luck too :(

Dave said...

No idea why they'd make an app like this US only. My phone is from the US, just being used in Australia on an Australian network. That's crazy!

Alex said...

great app, works flawlessly. hopefully you can integrated this straight into contacts soon.

JB said...

Thanks for leaving out the great majority of android phones. (/end sarcasm )

AhynesG1 said...

Exactly my point... it sucks.
I could understand no Google Earth but no Buzz web app and now this?

Eric Straith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Isamito said...

we wants android 2.1 on all android mobiles!

Marianne said...

Let me start by saying I love Google and my Android phone... but the end of life so to speak with dev is crazy. 2.0 has only been out about 4 months and everything released by Google only supports it as of late. I'd upgrade, if it were up to me, but it's limited by the phone provider and the carrier because I have a Cliq which uses MotoBlur on top of the Android OS and the release will get pushed by Tmobile "in Q2" or something... By the time it is, I'm sure there will be apps released for the next release and I'll be outdated already. That's a bummer. I wish some of the fundamental flaws in Android would get addressed to (on the codesite). I can't use wifi at work because an unsigned cert redirect for the guest network for the browser and a key index other than 0 on our regular network. I'd also like to have wifi enabled and cell network disabled because if there is no cell coverage the battery drains like crazy unless in airplane mode. I like new features, but these are deal breakers for a lot of potential buyers too. C'mon Google, don't let me down...I want to drink the Kool-Aid, but it needs some more sugar.

Mark Andrachek, Jr. said...

Where's the QR code?

Sushubh said...

google nexus one owner from india. cannot find it on the android market here. disappointed.

Sensha said...

Google needs to make T-Mobile update our G1 OS so we can enjoy these apps like everyone else.

Stefan Sarzio said...

It sucks that it's only available in the US. :-(

Joe said...

Dolphin Browser on the adroid market, had this a year ago.

Ravi Singh said...

I hope that Google Officially releases the Nexus One in India as well so that we may be able to use all these updated softwares.

Àl said...

I don't like the route that Google is following now. There are huge bags of users left behind in Gears and now in Android. I don't understand why 2.0 and up and worst, I don't understand which is the absurd reason to ask for living in US to recognize some gestures. Really! Every positive effect in announcing every new feature is immediately followed by an upset sentiment for millions of users. Shame!

SLHOKA said...

Hey guys plz do something for android 1.5 and 1.6 .upgrade d version of samsung galaxy so dat we can get some gud apps for our phone.

PG said...

For Dave from Australia...can't understand why you can't get Gesture. I've got a Nexus One and am using on Vodafone network in OZ. The app works great.

Nina said...

International workaround: I am able to get the app from the UK using the QR barcode, even though it's not on the market!

Sushubh said...

i tried scanning the bar code but it took me to the market where it was not available. which app did you use?

Nina said...

@Sushubh hmm. I used the 'Barcode Scanner v3.1' app. I have a Nexus One shipped to the UK, and a google account that's originally from the US, so maybe that's the difference.

Manny said...

What about Android 1.6 users? Thisi is hurting Android badly!

Rafael Pretto M.D. said...

I am a Nexus One owner from the country of Panama, also cant find it on the Market. Come on Google, we are waiting for you to go overseas and dominate the market with android, but THIS IS NOT HELPING THAT MUCH.

deron said...

I found it in the market and I'm from the UK...

Searched for "gesture search"

JQ said...

I like this app a lot. It stinks that 1.5 or 1.6 users are left out, but I'm sure Google will get it all together moving forward. Patience.

Now, the app: I like it's usefulness, I hope that one day it can be integrated to replace "voice search" (as I'd use this more often), but I'm disappointed to see if doesn't recognize letters drawn in landscape mode unless the phone is open (droid). Outside of that, neat app!

Inter said...

Why exactly is this only available in the US?

funker said...

Google disappoints me keeping this only within the US. I'm in Canada and this app is not available.

Does anyone know a workaround?

joe_arimathea said...

Need some 2.x updates for lots of devices. I love Gestures search on my Droid, but my wife's Devour (brand new device by the way, but still has 1.6) is out of luck.

FShag said...

I can understand why Google has blocked the paid apparently but now we can't get the free version either.

desonra_bonita said...

This app looks really cool. But give us a software update! I only have 1.6 on my android.

António Mota said...

I just installed on a Milestone in Ireland. Works great...

Paramédic said...

Hello, sorry i don't speak very well English. How can i do to propose a idea with Androïd and Google Health.For diabète, HTA,obésite,Hypertension, coagulation monitoring.
Thank you very much

Jean-Marc

Jessica Deva said...

I am really tired of apps that don't work for me b/c Google and T-Mobile haven't done a push for those of us that were supporting Android from the beginning. Folks, my phone is only 5 MONTHS old - c'mon, guys, support your loyal customer base.

Develop said...

I love this app. Makes finding stuff on your phone even easier.
Ive been hooked on Google for years and having everything on my Droid is priceless

Eric said...

Gesture Search seems to work well on my Nexus One.

But, it would have been much more useful as an extension or upgrade to the existing Contacts and Phone apps. As it stands now, when I want to make a call, I first have to decide whether to launch the Phone or Contacts app (because I have a specific number to dial, or want to browse my contacts) or the Gesture Search app (because I want use this cool new capability).

Wouldn't a better UX be a single app that supports all three modes, so I don't have to decide a priori which mode to use when I want to make a phone call, and so I have fewer apps cluttering my home screen?

Sushubh said...

ah well you can also already use the google search box to search through your contacts. i end up using it as it is on my home screen and does not require me to start any app first.

Nathan said...

Too bad we can't upgrade our 1.5 and 1.6 devices. :'(

barryhunter said...

I've found a really nice alternative application for this ;)

... counting!

If you have a number of items to tally up, just draw vertical lines, one per item just about as quick as you need. Sometimes they will be taken as one char, sometimes seperete, but it doesnt matter.

Then count off the vertical lines. I've used it for quickly counting items upto about 20, but it can do more, but get too many and it gets hard to count the lines afterward.

Ken said...

This app works really well.

All you folks with sub-2.0 phones need to complain to your carrier to get those upgrades out ASAP.

CDL said...

When the app is opened it should provide a menu to choose where to look, as otherwise one can get way too many results:
-Contacts
-Browser
-Apps
-Music
-Other SD Files (not currently available).

Current shortcomings/glitches:
-It doesn't find all my contacts (it's already finished indexing)
-It doesn't recognize numbers
-Latin-alphabet characters with non-English marks (e.g. accents) should be recognized if drawn, and also indexed both as such and as though they didn't have the non-English marks (that is, "é" should be indexed both as "e" and as "é").

Paul said...

All the people wondering why it is not available on older versions of Android. I'm guessing it is at the very least dependent on the android.gesture class which was not part of Android until API Level 4 (Android 1.6). So there would be no way it would work in 1.5, and there may be other dependencies that do not allow it to work on 1.6 also. But I do understand the frustration, and believe Google has recognized the fragmentation issue and has committed to addressing it.

http://developer.android.com/reference/android/gesture/package-summary.html

Lucivaldo said...

Why restrict to US??? what is the reason??

24junkie said...

I love the idea, but I think it needs further refining before it is truly usable in an frequent sense. For me, by the time I open up the app from my home screen and enter a letter or two, i probably could find what I need by just launching another app directly. Obviously, what some other users have stated in regard to having it as an in-app feature for other apps could work.

What I'd like even more, though, would for the app to enable you to draw gestures on the home screen, which then automatically brings up the Gesture Search app and the relevant results for the queery that began with the initial letter drawn on the home page. From there, additional letters could be drawn to refine the query. To me, this seems like a much more intuitive and time-efficient manner to utilize this gesture-based search concept.

I love the idea, and hope a future update will add more functionality. Thanks, Google!

David said...

Integrate it with Contacts app and I'm sold!

FShag said...

I think it's now downloadable for non-US users.

Sushubh said...

alright. can confirm. it is now visible in android market here in india. cool!

Rafael Pretto M.D. said...

Confirmed, it is visible on the market outside U.S.A.
Thanks Google.

Zanthius said...

UK Nexus User - market search 'Gesture Search' ... download no problem :-)

Amazing stuff, will be even more amazing which I figure out how to integrate the Gesture Search with my cloud based database app :-)

powfound said...

WHY IS ALL THE NEW APPS FOR 2.0 AND ABOVE WHY DO GOOGLE MAKE T-MOBILE PUSH UPGRADES FOR THE G1 WE ARE TRIED OF WAITING FOR OUR UPGRADES SO WE CAN GET SOME OF THESE NEW NEED APPS

Lloyd said...

no support for 1.x devices .. wtf google
these are the kind of apps that will further the (your) platform.

Nice way to reward all the early adopters .. heck even Apple does not pull off retarded stunts like this one.

If all the new tech coming out of Google's stables is for Android 2 and above I think that Google should work with all the handset manufacturers to get Android 2 to all the earlier devices.

.peace

C said...

Sadly, I have the Sprint HTC Hero which runs Android v1.5. I'm keeping a list of new exciting apps which a may perhaps be able to use someday. I will add this to my list. I'm with many others here. If I had know about this, I would have gone elsewhere. Fragmentation is not good.

Mobli News said...

Thsnk for good news.

acornblue said...

Great app! Works on m.droid. I hope it will evolve into an input method.

Bakari said...

Comm'on guys, we want it on android 1.6 too! and in europe!

Ron said...

Come on Google. We love you, but please remember to keep us relevant. Some of us owners of the G1, can not get the upgrade to phone with Android 2.0+. You can't just brush us aside, and expect us to continue following you like the bigger brother we love you for.

Xtof said...

Love it. I hope this hand-written recognition becomes a choice of input method for the whole OS, not just search.

Don said...

I really like Google Gestures. I'm using it on a Nexus One. I am slowly teaching myself to use it as a primary way of finding people and applications on the phone.

In doing so, I've found that it only searches contacts with a telephone number. It's 2010 and I don't have the slightest clue what the telephone number is for many of my contacts. To make them visible to this search I have to add a bogus number. Gestures should search every field in the entries for contacts.

oli said...

I love the app but please add landscape mode:
When using the phone for navigation in the car you usually have it in some kind of cradle on your dashboard or on the windscreen and it is in landscape mode. Now, if you want to call someone, gesture search would be a great way to do that without disturbing you too much by fiddling around with the phone but for that we need landscape mode...