iPhone gets handwriting recognition

Posted by Christian Zibreg

Well, sorta. Chinese developer Hanwang Technology, which specializes in pattern recognition technologies, says it has developed what appears to be the first handwriting recognition software for the iPhone.

The application allows a user to enter arbitrary text (Chinese, Latin letter sets are supported) by drawing a character shape on the iPhone screen. As the user draws a letter, the software is promised to recognize it after a brief pause and enters the recognized letter into whatever text field a cursor is currently positioned. For each recognized character, HWPen offers similar recognized, so you could quickly correct your input. We were not able to figure out whether the software is actually “learning” a user’s handwriting.

To see HWPen in action, take a look at this video.

We won’t complain too much about the software, since it is still in an early beta stage. But from what we have seen so far, the app isn't as accurate as one would wish and the handwriting algorithm isn't instantaneous, but pauses briefly after each stroke to calculate the most probable character. HWPen is does not work in the iPhones Mail software and you can't use the app in landscape mode. However, the developer promised to squash bugs and iron out the flaws for the final release. Hanwang intends to offer HWPen to both end-users and enterprise customers.

 HWPen requires a jailbroken iPhone. If you'd like to give it a try, add the http://iphonecake.com/src/all URL to the Installer (open the Installer.app, choose Sources, click on Edit and Add to add the URL. Refresh your sources and find the HWPen in the iPhoneCake packages category. You will have to restart your iPhone once you have installed the software.