Google makes Chrome more friendly for text input with Android 13

Thanks to a little help from Samsung


You know how school likes to throw a bunch of group projects, do you sit down sometimes? Well, you could say that Android and Chromium (including ChromeOS, Chrome Browser, and other web browsers) are basically just big group projects. Thanks to Google, their open source nature has brought together all sorts of features from all sorts of contributors. Samsung is probably the biggest and it looks like we’re about to get another feature offered by the company in time for Android 13 – this one should add wonderfully to its advertised tablet friendliness.

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Mishaal Rahman, Esper Technical Writer followed several threads in the Chromium Gerrit written by a Samsung engineer who is looking to implement inking pen input on Android T – i.e. Android 13 – at least on editable text fields without a password on Chrome and derived WebViews.

It looks like Samsung devices with an S Pen running Android 13 can already take advantage of this feature. These devices use an in-house API called DirectWriting and a commit that allows handwriting to text with this API (based on Samsung keyboard usage) has been merged into Chromium.

Samsung is still working on integrating S Pen gestures into handwriting mode via the Chromium Gerrit.

Other Android devices will rely on a set of platform-level Stylus Writing APIs that will be introduced with Android 13. As it stands, it looks like a developer option toggle needs to be defined and that the global input method supports APIs. That means we’ll have to be on the lookout for when Gboard and other keyboard and input apps get updated for it.

Google has been busy optimizing its own-brand apps for large-screen device formats, but while graphical user interfaces go a long way, enabling different input methods on larger canvases is sure to energize Android. It also paves the way for ChromeOS to support inking-to-text at the platform level – being stuck only with keyboard inputs seems antiquated for 2022.

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