Yahoo Search has introduced a rather useful feature for those using Chinese characters. Yahoo Taiwan and Yahoo Hong Kong now allow users to hand write complex characters and then have Yahoo recognize the best match for them.
This should make searching using Chinese characters significantly simpler since users don't have to memorize all the key combinations for the many characters.
"Yahoo! Search continues to roll out innovative features to make entering queries easier, and we’ve just added a new feature for the Yahoo! Taiwan (Yahoo! Kimo) and Yahoo! Hong Kong search box," James Ying, Product Manager for Yahoo Search, wrote.
"You can now hand-write queries on the writing panel next to the search button in either traditional Chinese or English. Typing search queries in Chinese can be challenging especially for new computer users because it requires memorizing Chinese character mapping rules," he announced.
"Even experienced computer users don’t remember the mapping for all Chinese characters. The handwriting feature lowers the hurdle for people searching on Yahoo! Taiwan and Yahoo! Hong Kong," he continued.
On both Yahoo homepages there is now a small pencil button, to the left of the search bar. Clicking on it will bring up a small box in which you can write the character. Since you're doing this with a mouse, or, even worse, with a trackpad, it's not going to be very accurate, but Yahoo presents six possibilities to choose the character you wanted.
Even so, it can be time consuming to write a long query. Thankfully, as you start writing, you'll get 10 suggestions, which are refined as you continue, to help you find what you're looking for before you've finished writing.
The feature supports Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English and numeral characters. While, Yahoo isn't announcing anything, it could extend the feature to other languages featuring complex characters or ones not normally present on an English keyboard.