Update 3/9: Gboard 6.1 is now out of beta and beginning to roll out to Android devices. All features from the beta have made their way into the final version, with Google also noting that emojis and GIF searches now appear in the suggestion strip, while search now supports right-to-left languages.
In its first update since being rebranded in January, Gboard for Android is adding a number of new features and customizations. Version 6.1.59 is currently in beta, but users can easily sign-up to get the latest version from the Play Store.
Tapping the ‘G’ button on the keyboard reveals a new Google Translate icon in the suggestions row. Tapping it brings up a field, with selectors located above to quickly change both the input and output language.
As you type in that box, the corresponding text is entered into the selected on-screen text field. However, it remains highlighted and automatically gets converted to the translated phrase as you finish typing.
The text box in Gboard also receives a slight visual redesign. Specifically, it is no longer full width but rather has padding on all sides. This change applies to all fields, including the general and emoji search box.
Additionally, Themes receives a big update with the picker being revamped with slide pickers and a way to access recently used themes. A new ‘Landscapes’ section highlights how users can use their own background image with some pre-made high-resolution ones from Google. At the moment, 10 landscapes are available for download.
Speech dictation also receives a major update this version that makes voice typing more intuitive on Android. Previously, tapping the Voice input key would replace the keyboard with a single purpose interface that featured a microphone and a few controls.
Now, pressing the button keeps users on the main keyboard, with the voice typing interface, animation, and prompts only taking up the suggestions row. Every time users activate it a system toast notes that audio is being saved to their specific Google account. Voice typing will stop listening when a key is pressed or automatically after a few seconds.
To sign-up for the beta, head to Gboard’s Play Store listing and scroll down. Tapping “I’m in” will enroll you, with the update taking a few minutes to show up.