Third-party keyboards have been possible (but flaky) on iPhones since iOS 8 in 2014, and today Google has joined the likes of Microsoft and others that are trying to offer a better software keyboard to iPhone owners. Meet Gboard, Google’s brand new iPhone keyboard that’s launching today and packed with features including search, GIF lookup, and gesture typing.
Google’s third-party keyboard for iOS looks a lot like the standard iOS keyboard, which should make typing with it a familiar experience, but Gboard packs in what Google does best: search.
Third-party keyboards can be accessed from any app and Gboard features a dedicated Google Search function right from the keyboard. This means you can search Google from Messages, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else you can type on iOS without leaving that specific app. Google’s pitch here is that it minimizes the need to switch between various apps and rely on copy and paste to grab information.
Google has also taken an Android functionality and applied Glyde typing over the Gboard keyboard. This makes typing with a single finger very quickly possible, and was made popular by apps like Swype.
Finally, Gboard also benefits from featuring a full-fledged GIF search engine within. That means you can hunt for animated images to share with your friends right from the keyboard you already use without switching to a dedicated GIF keyboard or GIF search app.
Admittedly, Apple’s support for third-party keyboards has been flaky at best since being made possible since iOS 8, but Gboard looks well worth taking for a test drive if you’re interest.
Here’s the full description of Gboard for iPhone:
Gboard is a new keyboard from Google for your iPhone. It has all the things you would expect from a great keyboard — GIFs, emojis, and Glide Typing — plus Google Search built in. No more app switching; just search and send, right from your keyboard.
Search and send anything from Google: • Nearby stores and restaurants • Videos and images • Weather forecasts • News and articles • Sports scores • And anything else you’d search on Google
GIFs — Search GIFs for the best reaction
Emoji Search— Find the perfect emoji, faster
Glide Typing — Type faster by sliding your finger from letter to letter
Privacy We know the things you type on your phone are personal, so we’ve designed Gboard to keep your private information private.
What Gboard sends to Google: • When you do a search, Gboard sends your query to Google’s web servers so Google can process your query and send you search results. • Gboard also sends anonymous statistics to Google to help us diagnose problems when the app crashes and to let us know which features are used most often.
What Gboard doesn’t send to Google: • Everything else. Gboard will remember words you type to help you with spelling or to predict searches you might be interested in, but this data is stored only on your device. This data is not accessible by Google or by any apps other than Gboard.
And here’s what Gboard looks like in action:
Google’s new Gboard third-party keyboard for iPhone is available for free in the US App Store. Google says support for additional languages will follow.