Touchscreens are a step up from keyboards for interfacing with mobile devices, but they're still not as easy to use as they could be. Voice recognition technology is one way to go, but for many tasks, a direct approach is more efficient, and Google has patented a new gesture that'll make searching nearly effortless.
Google's idea is simple, straightforward, and effective. Whenever you draw a lowercase letter "g" on a touchscreen with your finger, the OS will perk up and get ready to search. Then, just continue your drawing and circle whatever text you want more info on, lift your finger off the screen, and poof, Google search initiated!
Several other options are suggested in the patent, including other letters for other search engines (like a "w" for Wikipedia), or using an "s" gesture to call up a menu of options. We should point out that similar sorts of gestures (using mice) have been around for ages, but touchscreen gestures have been constrained to much simpler movements like swipes and pinches and spins. Drawing out entire letters in lieu of a keyboard is probably never going to make sense for text entry, but combining single letters with simple gestures seems like it offers a good compromise between providing the OS with the detailed information it needs to know what you want, and you having the patience to give it that info.
This is just a patent, and there's no indication when (or if) Google might turn these gestures into part of Android or anything else. But it seems like such a simple and straightforward idea, if Google doesn't make it happen soon, some third party probably will instead.