The latest beta of Google’s keyboard app for Android rolled out yesterday evening. Gboard 8.6 reveals works on a “Symbols keyboard,” sticker UI redesign, and sponsored GIFs, as well as a ghost.

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.

Symbols keyboard

Gboard 8.6 details a new “Symbols keyboard” that could simplify entering punctuation and other similar characters. Instead of switching to a layout that’s near identical to the one for letter entry, a more dedicated interface appears to be in development.

Categories — which are likely grouped like the other expressive media keyboards — would include shapes, numbers, mathematics, and arrows. This rich_symbol_keyboard would appear alongside universal search, emoji, stickers, GIFs, and kaomoji in the bottom row of tabs.

<string name=”rich_symbol_keyboard_key_content_desc”>Symbols keyboard</string>

<string name=”rich_symbol_keyboard_persist_states_pref_key”>rich_symbol_keyboard_subcategory_selected</string>

<string name=”symbol_arrow_content_desc”>Arrows</string>

<string name=”symbol_fullwidth_content_desc”>Full width</string>

<string name=”symbol_kuohao_content_desc”>Brackets</string>

<string name=”symbol_love_content_desc”>General</string>

<string name=”symbol_math_content_desc”>Mathematics</string>

<string name=”symbol_number_content_desc”>Numbers</string>

<string name=”symbol_shape_content_desc”>Shapes</string>

Sponsored GIFs

TV shows and movies today often release branded GIFs as another promotional method. GIF search in Google’s keyboard is powered by Tenor, with Gboard 8.6 suggesting that sponsored GIFs are coming. When they appear, they’ll be marked with an “Ad” badge.

<string name=”sponsored_gif_badge_label”>Ad</string>

<string name=”enable_tenor_sponsored_gif_for_language_tags”/>

Sticker UI redesign

The sticker keyboard is getting a redesign that adds an inline “Browse” interface. A grid of cards with previews allows users to add Minis, Bitmoji, and other packs directly. Other changes include an always-visible search bar and larger Material buttons.

Predictive Content Search

The Predictive Content Search option has been tweaked to no longer offer “web searches” when typing. This preference is now dedicated to recommending GIFs, emoji, and stickers.

Suggestions ghost

Gboard 8.6 includes an incredibly delightful no_suggestions_background_ghost GIF. It’s related to the upcoming emoji to GIF/sticker suggestions feature that we spotted last release. This ghost moving to and fro will specifically appear in the search bar when no matches are available.

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.

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

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article


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