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Mobile Apps

Google Gboard brings search and share to Android keyboard

In Google's view, keyboards are for researching restaurants and checking the weather, not just typing.

Google's Gboard app builds search into the keyboard.

Google

Google, trying to get you to think of keyboards as apps for more than just typing words and emoji, released its Gboard software on Friday for phones and tablets using its own Android software.

The app includes the standard features on Google's keyboard, including autocorrect and text predictions, swipe typing that lets you slide your finger from letter to letter instead of tapping, and voice dictation.

On top of that, though, Gboard brings a search box that connects you directly to Google's biggest online service. And in some chat apps like Google Allo, Google Messenger and Google Hangouts, you can search for gifs then share them, Gboard product manager Reena Lee said in a blog post. You can engage a search by tapping the Google G icon on the upper left of the keyboard.

Google released Gboard for iPhones and iPads in May and promised Gboard for Android afterward. On Apple's iOS-powered devices, Gboard faces a serious, Apple-imposed limitation: there's no option to launch voice dictation. As devices get steadily better at translating our spoken words to text, that's a bigger and bigger omission.

Gboard for Android benefits from artificial intelligence technology to better predict what you want to type and correct your typos, Lee said. And for multilanguage users, Gboard can suggest words from any of your supported languages at the same time, so there's no more frustration trying to choose between "the" in English and "thé" in French.

Gboard is available in the Google Play store in 100 languages starting Friday, with more language support on the way.