Gboard is bringing stylus handwriting support to Android tablets and foldables

USI Stylus pens on Pixel Tablet in Google Canvas
(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Gboard on Android tablets and foldables now supports stylus input, enabling users to write in any text field and automatically converting handwritten text into typed text.
  • Users can perform actions like deleting, inserting a new line, or joining words through simple gestures.
  • The handwriting recognition feature is not exclusive to the Pixel Tablet; it extends to foldables such as Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5, meaning it supports the S Pen stylus.

Tablet and foldable phone keyboards often lack handwriting recognition, but Gboard is fixing that by adding native support for it.

The feature first surfaced in August when a handwriting stylus support for the Pixel Tablet was spotted within a new settings page in Gboard. Now, Android sleuth Mishaal Rahman got the scoop that the feature is live and even shared a video showing it in action.

Rahman demonstrates how you can effortlessly write in text fields and make deletions or insertions. Thanks to the handwriting support, Gboard now automatically turns your chicken scratch into neat typed text.

Google's keyboard app automatically turns your writing into typed text as you switch to the next word. And the cool part is that you can do this whether you're rocking a stylus on your Pixel Tablet or Samsung tablet.

It's not surprising to see the Pixel Tablet picking up this feature, seeing as it supports USI 2.0 styluses, meaning you can wield any stylus pen for Chromebooks and Android tablets to scribble or sketch. Before this update, though, you could only use a stylus for drawing and note-taking, not for typing. Now, the handwriting support fills that void.

Gboard's handwriting recognition isn't restricted to tablets. No, it's also showing off on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.

When you're using handwriting recognition, Gboard throws in a floating toolbar to give you quick access to emojis, language pickers, clipboards, and other nifty tools. Plus, you can adjust the handwriting speed and stroke width in Gboard's settings.

Gboard's handwriting recognition rides in on the coattails of Android 14, which introduced native stylus support. So, if your device isn't rocking the latest OS version, chances are you'll miss out on the handwriting recognition bandwagon.

Rahman points out that not everyone gets to access this feature right away, so brace yourself for a bit of a wait.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.