Google Brings Its Gboard Keyboard to Android

Posted on December 16, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, iOS, Android with 10 Comments

Search on Gboard

Google announced today that it is replacing the stock Google Keyboard on Android with a new keyboard app called Gboard. Which it launched first on iPhone, go figure.

Google introduced Gboard for iPhone back in May, in the wake of Microsoft’s purchase of SwiftKey and its release of Hub Keyboard for iOS. But it’s not so much that Google was reacting to Microsoft per se. Instead, both Google and Microsoft—and Apple, given the improvements it made to its own keyboard and the Messages app in iOS 10—saw the same market changes: Mobile users are increasingly interacting with the world through messaging apps via a keyboard. And controlling that interface is a potentially way forward, even when you don’t control the underlying mobile platform.

At the time, Google positioned Gboard for iPhone as the place you could “search and send information, GIFs, emojis and more,” and it put a Google button right there, always at the ready. Which was of course the point: Squeaking under the wall of Apple’s iOS protections and getting front and center on the rival platform.

But now Gboard has arrived on Android, which Google already controls. What’s the point of that?

“Gboard has all the things you love about your old Google Keyboard — speed and accuracy, Glide Typing and voice typing — plus Google Search built in,” Google’s Reena Lee explains. “You can search and send information, GIFs, emojis and more — right from your keyboard. As an added bonus, we’ve added multilingual typing to help you switch languages on the fly.”

Google Cardboard (old version, on the left) and Gboard.

Google Cardboard (old version, on the left) and Gboard.

Compared to today’s Google Keyboard, Gboard offers the same (if improved) Glide Typing, predictions and auto-correction capabilities. But it also includes a number of improvements, as hinted at in the quote above. Those features will work across multiple languages now, if you have them installed on the phone, for example, and it supports over 100 languages at launch.

Various search buttons are there now above the top row of keys, in the auto-correct area, and you can use them to trigger Internet search, so you can tap in the results and push that information into a chat message. (An introductory video shows how you can look up a restaurant and then send the address of that restaurant to the person with whom you’re chatting.)

It looks interesting. I was going to go and give it a try, but I there was no rush: It was waiting in my “to install” list anyway, since this thing will replace the stock keyboard automatically. Off we go…


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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Google Brings Its Gboard Keyboard to Android”

  1. 5812

    Nice. I've heard from many that the Keyboard on Iphone is awesome and didn't know why they didn't have it on Android. I'm very happy to get this. It does a lot of neat tricks that save time.


  2. 5234

    "Google Cardboard (old version, on the left) and Gboard."


    I think you mean "Google Keyboard".

  3. 5539

    One thing I've appreciated on my Android keyboards (Nexus/Pixel) has been the layout when it realizes I'm in a password field. It provides full four rows of keys including the numbers/special characters laid out like they are on a full keyboard. Makes things easier to find and type in.

  4. 5528

    It's awesome! love it!

  5. 9387

    Tried this out. Frankly it doesn't seem that big a deal. 

  6. 7124

    Since Microsoft bought Swiftkey (which I love on my Android), I wish they would implement it on Windows. It would really make my 8" Windows tablet more useful.

  7. 1775

    >Google Cardboard (old version)...

    So the keyboard and the VR box have the same name?

  8. 5592

    Clearly Google doesn't care about Android or Android users since they released this first on iOS. Seriously, why don't they just admit that and shut it down already.


  9. 9077

    Hmm, I like SwiftKey but ever since Microsoft bought it, you know it's a ticking time bomb where they'll ruin it like Skype and everything else they buy out. 

    If G Board is as good as SwiftKey then I'll dump the latter.