Google isn't the only search engine introducing innovative features today. In an effort to be more accessible to international users, especially those new to computing, Yahoo has made it possible for Chinese users to enter searches with their own handwriting. Visitors to Yahoo! Taiwan and Yahoo! Hong Kong can now use a special handwriting panel to draw out characters in order to conduct a search, making it easier for those unfamiliar with Chinese typing to more easily browse the Web.
With the writing panel, users can draw with their mouse (or a writing tablet if they have one) and Yahoo will provide six suggestions of the intended character. Like any search engine, Yahoo then provides search suggestions based on the first character, which could save additional typing time.
Typing in Chinese is a complicated practice for some. Most users type characters in Chinese by typing the sound of the character using the standard QWERTY Roman characters, but a lot of Chinese sounds are very similar. Another entry method involves typing a sequence of keys based on the shape of a character and can be fast to use but tough to learn, especially those new to computers.
As Yahoo product manager James Ying says, handwritten search "lowers the hurdle" for users in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The handwriting panel supports Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese as well as English and numerals, so you can give it a try right now even if you don't know Chinese.