Google has announced the launch of Gboard, a new keyboard app created exclusively for iOS devices.
Gboard delivers a broad range of features not available in the iPhone's stock keyboard. You can use it to search the Web or hunt for specific images, GIFs, and emojis without leaving the app.
"Searching and sending stuff on your phone shouldn't be that difficult," Google wrote in a blog post on the app's release. "With Gboard, you can search and send all kinds of things -- restaurant info, flight times, news articles -- right from your keyboard."
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Gboard addresses many subtle frustrations of using an iPhone keyboard in everyday conversations, such as having to leave the app to conduct a Web search or scroll through emojis instead of simply searching for one.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of Gboard is the ability to conduct Web searches straight from the keyboard. Start a search by tapping the Google logo, located to the left of the word predictions, to open a search bar.
You can use the search bar to browse information on restaurants, flights, and news. The results are presented as cards with key information (phone numbers, ratings, hours) available front and center. It's simple to copy and paste information into the conversation without having to leave your message.
It's understandable you might have some privacy concerns with a Google search bar built into your keyboard. When you enter Settings to enable full access for Gboard, you are warned that full access allows the developer to transmit anything you type -- including sensitive information like street addresses or credit card information.
The warning may give you pause, but Google notes Gboard has been designed to keep user information private.
Google explains how when you conduct a search, Gboard sends the query to Google servers so it can be processed. The app also sends anonymous stats to Google for diagnosing app crashes and determining which app features are most popular.
Gboard will remember words you type to help with spelling and predictive search, but this data is stored exclusively on your device. It can't be accessed by Google or apps outside Gboard.
Another handy function built into Gboard is the ability to search emojis. Trivial, perhaps, but a welcome feature to anyone who has spent countless minutes scrolling for an emoji to no avail. Gboard also gives you the option to browse GIFs and copy/paste them into a message.
Gboard also supports Glide Typing, which you can use to type words by sliding your finger across the keyboard instead of tapping individual keys. Google already offers Glide Typing to Android users, but the feature hadn't yet been built into Apple's stock keyboard.
There are a few options to customize Gboard within Settings. These include contact search for sharing info within a chat, or location access for finding local businesses.
It's worth noting Gboard isn't limited to the messaging app. You can it use for email, YouTube, or anything you normally type on your phone or iPad.
Gboard is currently available in the US on the Apple App Store. It's currently limited to English, but Google promises support for additional languages is on the way.