I was surprised to discover a new little dropdown option in the Gmail menu bar today, with the Chinese character 拼 on it (for 拼音, pinyin). After playing with it, it became clear that it’s an in-browser input method–a way to type in Chinese characters. Most people install Chinese IMEs at the operating system level (Chinese input is supported by Windows, Mac OS, and Linux now), but now Gmail is offering a way to type pinyin without the OS-level IME. It’s all in the browser. What’s more, it’s surprisingly fast. It’s pretty much exactly like using Google Pinyin for Windows, which I used to love, but gave up when I switched to using a Mac. This is very cool.
It’s not only for Chinese, though:
I’m not sure why it was auto-enabled for me, but if you’d like to try it out, just open up your Gmail settings. It’s right at the top:
More info from Google here. (Thanks, Luke, for that link!)