As readers may know, I’m an avid fan of handwriting recognition for mobile devices. This may not be everyone’s favorite input method, but it works well in many situations – writing one-handed on the move, for instance. And with my new Kindle Fire 7 in hand, I naturally wanted to use my preferred input method.
Problem. Unlike the Google Play Store, which includes the Google Handwriting Input app for free, as well as a bunch of other free and paid solutions, the Amazon Appstore is low on HWR apps. What’s more, one of my preferred past solutions, 7Notes, has a version on the Amazon Appstore – which only does handwriting in its own notetaking app. It won’t do HWR for search boxes in the main Fire OS, or do anything else in the system as a whole except provide a less capable keyboard. Unless there’s some setting there which I haven’t discovered, or the Premium version does it across the entire system.
Enter the Android .apk hack we’ve already detailed elsewhere for swapping apps from other Android devices to the new Kindle Fire. I backed up the Google Handwriting Input .apk using EZ File Explorer’s Android app backup feature, then copied it to my new Kindle Fire. The app installed from the .apk smoothly, and took me through its usually series of steps to change system input to HWR. The entire procedure worked exactly the same as on stock Android.
Now, whenever I want to switch into HWR, the stock Kindle Fire keyboard gives me the option, through a little keyboard button at bottom right. Switch back, ditto. That said, I won’t be using my Kindle Fire as my mobile productivity platform. I’ll just be reserving it for leisure reading and will stick to my old Lenovo A7-10 for writing on the move. Reasons? Partly it’s the limited software choice on the Kindle Fire, with, for example, no Google Drive app for online backup. However, it’s also the weight of the thing. I chose the Lenovo primarily for size and weight, and the Kindle Fire 7 may be cheap and cheerful, but compared to the A7-10, it’s also a tad chubby.