The last stable update to Gboard introduced more options to edit custom GIFs, expanded sticker search, and more. This afternoon, the latest beta introduces a number of in-development features including Spell Check and a floating keyboard, as well as another expressive feature called ‘Minis.’ Version 7.4 also offers the first details on a possible Gogole Material Theme for the keyboard.

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Spell Check

“What’s new in Gboard” touts a “Spell check” feature wherein the app will underline misspelled words as you type. We’ve yet to get this functionality operational, with the mentioned setting to turn this off not yet available in Text correction settings.

<string name=”setting_mark_misspelled_words_summary”>Mark misspelled words while typing</string>

<string name=”setting_mark_misspelled_words_title”>Spell check</string>

Automatic dark theme w/  battery saver

The last beta of Gboard detailed a battery saver theme/mode. Version 7.4 further explains how “Gboard is dark to save battery,” specifically noting that the app “can save power on OLED screens by going dark.” We’ve managed to enable that setting in preference, with the dark theme automatically enabling when the system battery saver is enabled.

<string name=”notice_battery_saver_theme”>Gboard is dark to save battery. Tap for settings.</string>

<string name=”setting_battery_saver_theme_switching_summary”>Gboard can save power on OLED screens by going dark

Floating Keyboard

Gboard already supports a one-handed keyboard that can be positioned anywhere within the bottom two-thirds of the screen. However, this inefficiently covers the background in gray and hides whatever is underneath. A floating keyboard would presumably allow users to see the rest of the screen while using a more compact keyboard.

<string name=”id_access_point_floating_keyboard”>floating_keyboard</string>

Material Theme

Version 7.4 features several lines of code that refer to a new “M2” theme for various parts of Gboard like stickers, as well as an “M2DarkMode.” These new elements happen to use Google Sans and could be part of revamped look for the app following Android P. 9to5Google has learned from a reliable source that a Google Material Theme is in the works for Gboard.

Federated learning

Gboard is one of the first apps that Google has acknowledged uses testing Federated Learning, or an anonymized version of machine learning that processes improvements to a model (like personalizations) on-device. These changes are then anonymously sent to the cloud where Google would aggregate the changes and push them back out to devices. Version 7.4 features new strings related to the feature.

<string name=”tiresias_spatial_federated_training_population” />

<string name=”tiresias_spatial_training_api_address”>https://federatedml-pa.googleapis.com</string>

New app icon

Replacing a white background, the app icon is now predominately blue in version 7.4.

Rate us

The main list of Gboard settings features a new “Rate us” section that asks “Are you enjoying Gboard.” “No” opens feedback, while “Yes” opens the Play Store.

“Minis”: Customized stickers

After gaining the ability to create custom GIFs in version 7.2, Gboard is working on a “customized sticker” called “minis.” They are very similar to the existing selfie stickers in Google Allo, but with some tweaks and more customization options.

Creating “Customized stickers based on you” involves taking a selfie focusing on your face. This creates a character, which can be further customized with various packs.

How to update?

You can sign-up for Gboard’s beta program here or by heading to the Play Store listing on Android and scrolling to the bottom. The latest beta version of Gboard is immediately rolled out by Google when it’s available.

We do not post APKs to download directly given the legal challenges associated with copyright and possibility of removal. Meanwhile, that model moving forward is perilous given upcoming system-level changes from Android App Bundles and Google Play’s Dynamic Delivery.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which some APK Insight teardowns benefit from.

Dylan contributed to this article


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