Emoji help us better express ourselves over text messages, and now, Google’s Gboard is testing a new “emoji bar” option to give users faster access.

We first spotted this new feature in Gboard in April, but the feature didn’t go live until just now. On the latest beta update, a tipster of ours saw the emoji bar pop up for the first time.

As pictured below, the emoji bar in Gboard appears above the keyboard and the tools row, adding a bit more height to the keyboard itself. When it shows up for the first time, there’s a message that says “Introducing the emoji bar!” and gives a very brief tutorial explaining what the feature is designed to do and how to use it.

Of course, tapping an emoji on the bar inserts it into the app you’re using, just like the standard Gboard emoji section would do. We’re not sure if the bar changes its layout based on your personal usage or context it sees within the app you’re using, but in the example our tipster saw some of the most popular emojis are shown including laughter, crying, heart, fire, thumbs up, and others.

The emoji bar in Gboard also includes a shortcut to the rest of the emoji section — a bit repetitive if you ask me, given the same button is located lower on the screen — as well as a way to disable the bar. Swiping over on the bar reveals a “remove” button to disable the functionality if you don’t want it. There’s also a setting in Gboard’s settings menu to turn it off.

Notably, our tipster was only able to use this feature with Google Messages. For whatever reason, it wouldn’t work with Telegram. Presumably, this isn’t the final behavior, though.

As mentioned in another article, Gboard is also currently testing a feature to suggest sticker packs. If you’re see either of these features live on your device, let us know in the comments!

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Ben Schoon

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