Google today announced the availability of its Gboard virtual keyboard for its Android mobile operating system. The app effectively replaces Google’s standard-issue Google Keyboard in the Play Store.
Gboard actually came to iOS seven months before arriving on Android this week. (A Google-signed APK version of the app became available earlier this week, but the update didn’t hit the Play Store until today.) Now Android users have a faster way to find information from the web using Google Search and send it to others or otherwise paste it. You don’t need to switch to a browser with Gboard, because Google Search is already there.
Its accessibility varies based on which Android device you’re using, a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.
On the Google Pixel, for example, you access Search by tapping the right-pointing arrow on the bar on the left side of the predictive suggestion bar that’s above the keyboard. Then you hit the magnifying glass. (Next to that are buttons to adjust the theme of the keyboard, get to the app’s settings, or make the keyboard smaller by squishing it into the left or right corner.)
But on other Android devices, the G might be just as easy to get to as it is on iOS — it’s sitting on the left side of the predictive suggestions. The icons for settings, size, and themes will be there when you tap the G. Fortunately, you can decide if you want the Google G to be prominent next to your predictive suggestions, regardless of whether it’s there out of the box. Just go to Gboard’s settings, select Search, and enable or disable the “Show ‘G’ button” option.
Also, Gboard search results look different on iOS and Android. In the Android version you’ll see cards on the bottom strip to narrow down what you see, above a single search result. On iOS you see a carousel of search results, and no cards below them.
The single search result is telling — Gboard is smart, just like Google Home.
“Gboard also predicts possible searches that may be relevant to you. Text a friend ‘Let’s meet if the weather looks good’ and see a prediction for ‘Weather.’ With one tap, you can share today’s weather with your friend and meet up for your next adventure,” Gboard product manager Reena Lee wrote in a blog post.
Like the iOS version of Gboard, the Android version also lets you search for and send GIFs and emojis. It lets you easily switch between enabled languages. (More than 100 are supported in Gboard for Android.) And when you hold down on the spacebar and move left or right, the cursor moves easily, so you don’t have to worry about tapping on just the right place to edit something.
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