Last month, our APK Insight of Gboard 7.5 revealed Google’s work on “smarter” search. This functionality highlights “relevant content”, and it’s now being A/B tested for some users.
When live, a card will pop up detailing how Gboard is “now smarter,” with an overlay telling users to “Tap here.”
As you type, the Google G will transform to let you know there is relevant content. You can turn it off through Gboard Search settings
As spotted by Android Police, the Google logo at the left of the suggestions row transforms when users enter text that could correspond to a sticker, GIF, or search. With a surrounding ring in the four Google colors, the interior can morph into a smiley face, GIF icon, or magnifying glass.
Tapping will open the appropriate section in Gboard, be it the media selector or a carousel of search cards. It’s unclear how fast it takes the keyboard to surface content, or what kind of analysis it is performing to find the most relevant part of what you typed.
This feature could be very powerful in providing contextual help without first needing to ask for it. For example, when in a conversation, the appropriate type of expressive media can appear, similar to how emoji can be displayed in the suggestions row, alongside text suggestions. It is faster than users having to manually search for it by first having to navigate to the appropriate section in Gboard.
Users can disable this functionality given the possible privacy concerns, as well as the likely visual disruption depending on how frequently Gboard flashes suggestions. This could be particularly annoying when texting in an active conversation thread. This toggle will be available in Search settings.
Strings in Gboard for smarter search date back to at least version 7.2. Android Police has screenshots of design iterations that just leverage a rounded ring of Google colors to note available content. This change — taken in conjunction with the card detailing the functionality — might suggest the feature is near launch.