Google Japan has entered another unexpected market with the release of a free Japanese input software. Reviews on the net hail it as a very natural and easy to use system posing a huge threat to the standard issue ATOK, Anthy, WinAnthy, and other input systems.
Google’s Japanese input can be used with Windows XP and later, as well as Mac computers. It is free and currently listed as being in Beta.
It gets wonderful reviews from people in Japan because it is very natural, and allows for input based on shortenings. If you speak Japanese, you know how often words are shortened. The Google Japanese software gives you the option of choosing the extended version even when you put in the shortened version.
Basically, it seems that Google has taken it’s “Suggest” feature often used in its search engine and applied it to the Japanese input system.
For people who don’t use Japanese computers, when you input Japanese, you basically type in the phonetic rendering of the words using either the English “romaji” lettering or the kana. Then when you hit the space bar, a list of possible Kanji (or Chinese-type characters) for that phonetic rendering.
Google’s input software takes the next step and offers suggestions for what you may be trying to write, or expansions of what you’ve shorthanded.
This feature is common on cellphones in Japan where having to input by repeatedly clicking on those little buttons. In fact, because of the suggest feature on cell phone Japanese language input software, typing on a cell phone in Japan is much faster than typing in English.
Since its a free download, it may also be worth a try for people using non-Japanese keyboards but who also want to be able to type Japanese text.