Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Google Releases Pinyin Converter

Google released an IME for China. IME means “Input Method Editor” and in this case, is used to convert Chinese Pinyin characters, which can be entered on Western-style keyboards (as they are in use in China), to Chinese characters. For example, the Pinyin Chinese “miànbāo” (bread) is “面包” in simplified Chinese characters. An IME will typically accept the user to type the easier “mianbao” without Pinyin’s accented characters, and then pop-up a selection box which you can navigate through and select with arrow and space keys to resolve the ambuigity of the “simplified Pinyin” input.

The China Search Engine View blog writes, “Google’s IME has some innovative features, such as depositing users’ personal phrase on Google’s server and synchronize it between different computers. You may also find popular words on Internet would be typed easily and accurately.”

Windows also comes with a native IME but it’s really bad (consequently, many users in China run third-party alternatives). Google’s version is much, much better I’m told by a trusted Chinese tester. Already, since February this year, Google China’s search engine started to convert Pinyin input with an auto-suggestion feature attached to the search box. This is also a bit annoying; when you now go to Google China, you can see two converters colliding – the web IME and the system IME.

Google Pinyin IME vs Google China auto-suggest

[Thanks Ken Wong, Cloudream and Shan!]


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