back to article The iPhone learns to read

Apple's iPhone can now understand hand-written letters, after an application initially developed to allow input of Chinese characters was tweaked to make it understand English. The application is very much an alpha release, and users are advised to take backups before installing. Once installed it offers an interface that will …


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  1. supermeerkat

    520 eh?

    Sweary is it? Can anyone expand on that?

  2. Gerard Krupa

    520 in Mandarin

    Actually no, in Mandarin it sounds very much like "I love you".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Um, the Chinese don't just exist in China...

    There might, you know, be a few living in the US and every where else, along with Japanese, Koreans, Thai's, etc. Some of them might even have iPhones if you can believe it!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    520 means...

    "the numbers 520 in Chinese ("wu er ling") sound like the words for "I love you" ("wo ai ni")."

  5. G Fan

    Re: 520 eh?

    520 is spoken wu er ling

    "wu er ling" sounds a little like "wo ai ni"

    "wo ai ni" means "I love you"

    Not sweary, but not something one would normally send to a colleague.

    /resident chinaman

  6. Anonymous Coward


    one of the reasons i hung onto my p910i for over 2 years (before switching to the iphone) was because of this very feature... i can't see myself using any other phone now.

  7. Le Tundoir
    Dead Vulture


    ...almost makes me want to go back 4 years in time, not buy my sony p800 (and eventually my p900, p910, m600 & p1i), drive 200 miles to london and setup a three and a half year camp outside the apple store just so i can get my hands on this epically groundbreaking tech!

  8. Steve Evans

    Not the first time an Apple device does handwriting recognition...

    Hope it's better than their earlier attempt... Cue one of my favourite jokes...

    Q) How many Apple Newton owners does it take to change a light bulb?

    A) Faux! Their to eat lemons, axe gravy soup.

    Sorry, it's the one with the Motorola 8500 in the pocket.

  9. Matt Kemp

    It's funky, but..

    Is there a real use for it? I can see the use for chinese, but I can't see the use for english - you'll be using a finger so you'll probably draw each letter quite big for it to be recognised, and from previous use of tablet PCs they're usually quite slow. Once you get used to typing with the iPhone you can usually be quite fast - three finger typing is about as fast as normal typing on a full keyboard. Surely it'll be awful for passwords as well - if you can see what you're typing so can everyone else, but if you can't then how do you know it's doing it right?

    Well done to the guys that developed it - I just can't see much of a use for it.

  10. Jon H

    Such a fantastic phone with all these (missing) features

    Wow, for a phone that gets so much hype, it sure it missing a lot of standard features found on several other phones (basically any Windows Mobile phone for starters) for years!

  11. Rob

    mmm yes

    such an important feature that no one mentioned it was missing until this guy made it, i can't say I lost any sleep over it, then again I don't whinge like a little bitch about it being too expensive not 3g and lacking a 100 megapixel camera I'd never use

  12. Anonymous Coward

    at AC

    Don't think something that recognises Chinese character will be much use to the Japanese, korens, Thais etc unless they are learning to write Chinese.

    Japan alone has three styles of writting (Kanji, the closest to Chinese, katakana & hiragana, oh and don't forget the unofficial romaji).

  13. G Fan

    @Stu Reeves

    Once you have handwriting recognition capability for hanzi, then spotting japanese, korean, thai, even arabic characters is a simple change. Start with the most complicated first, yes?

    If you don't use that, then sending 520 is to your girlfriend is good, sending 5201314 is better. But sending 748 to anyone is very very bad.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Hm. I wasn't paying attention to the iPhone. I thought it already did handwriting.

    My experience of the Newton was that a) I couldn't afford it, and b) it could read *my* handwriting. All these people who complained about the Newton must have been really scruffy writers. They probably got "sp. See me" in red in the margin all the time at school.

  15. Graham Lockley

    @Steve Evans


    Been so long since I played with a Newton I'd forgotten how 'good' the recognition was :)

  16. David Lear

    iphone dosn't forward texts

    While we are on the iphone wagon - I cannot forward the texts I receive on it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What? 748?

    Please put me out of my misery.

    "If you don't use that, then sending 520 is to your girlfriend is good, sending 5201314 is better. But sending 748 to anyone is very very bad."



    I need to know.

  18. G Fan


    Forgot the translations:

    5201314 (wu er ling yi san yi si) is like (wo ai ni yi sheng yi shi) meaning "I love you forever" while 748 (qi si ba) sounds like "qu si ba" which is the Chinese for "go and die".


  19. Daniel B.

    Ah, number stuff with the Chinese

    They avoid any instances for the number 4 as it sounds like "death". Ironically, one of the "best luck" numbers is 666 ;)

    There are some articles on the 'net and/or Wikipedia that talk about this particular custom.

    As a former Palm and HP Jornada PocketPC user, I don't think of using a "finger-based" handwrite recognition system in the near future ... stylus-based was bad enough!

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