All About the Gboard Keyboard for Android and iOS

A look at the keyboard's features, including integrated search

Close-up of a laptop keyboard

Pixabay

When it comes to mobile, Google lives in two worlds. The company works with manufacturers to create Android smartphones such as the Pixel, runs its operating system on millions of third-party devices, and maintains the operating system and an ecosystem of Android apps. But, it also invests quite a lot of resources into building Google apps for iOS, including Google Maps and Google Docs. When it comes to Gboard, Google's keyboard app, the company released the iOS app months before the Android version. While the two keyboards have similar features, there are a few minor differences.

For Android users, Gboard replaces Google Keyboard. If you already have the Google Keyboard on your Android device, you just need to update that app to get Gboard. Otherwise, you can download it from the Google Play Store: it's called Gboard – the Google Keyboard (by Google Inc., of course). In the Apple App Store, it's called, descriptively, Gboard—a new keyboard from Google.

Gboard For Android

Gboard takes the best features the Google Keyboard offered, such as one-handed mode and glide typing, and adds some new great ones. While Google Keyboard had only two themes (dark and light), Gboard offers 18 options in a variety of colors. You can also upload your image, which is cool. You can choose whether or not to have a border around the keys, whether or not to display a number row, and you can designate keyboard height using a slider.

The information here should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

For quick access to search, you can tap the magnifying glass icon in the menu at the top of the keyboard. It enables you to search Google directly from any app and then paste the results into the text field in a messaging app. For example, you could search for nearby restaurants or movie times and send them directly to a friend when you're making plans. The Gboard has predictive search, which suggests queries as you type. You can also insert GIFs into your conversations.

Other settings include keypress sounds and enabling a popup of the letter you've typed after a keypress. The latter can be helpful when you want to confirm you hit the right key, but it could also present a privacy concern when typing in a password. You can also choose to access the symbol keyboard using a long press and even set up a long-press delay, so you don't do it by accident.

For glide typing, you can show a gesture trail, which can be helpful or distracting depending on your preference. You can also enable some gesture commands, including deleting words by sliding left from the delete key and moving the cursor by sliding across the space bar.

One missing Gboard feature some users dislike is the ability to adjust the width of the keyboard. You can adjust it vertically, but you cannot adjust it horizontally, even in landscape mode on your device.

If you use multiple languages, Gboard lets you switch between them (it supports over 120) while you're typing with a key press. Don’t need that feature? You can use that same key to access emojis instead. There's also an option to show recently used emojis in a suggestion strip. For voice typing, you can opt to display a voice input key.

There are also numerous autocorrect options, includingone to block suggestions of offensive words, suggest names from your Contacts, and make personalized suggestions based on your activity in Google apps. You can also have Gboard automatically capitalize the first word of a sentence and suggest a possible next word. Better yet, you can sync learned words across different devices, so you can use your lingo without fear of an awkward autocorrect. Of course, you can also disable this feature entirely, since this convenience means giving up some privacy to Google.

Gboard For iOS

The iOS version of Gboard has most of the same features the Android version enjoys, with a few exceptions. Namely, voice typing, since it doesn't have Siri support. Otherwise, it includes GIF and emoji support, integrated Google search, and glide typing. If you enable predictive search or text correction, Google doesn't store that on its servers, only locally on your device. You can also allow the keyboard to view your contacts so it can suggest names as you type.

One issue you may run into when using Gboard on iOS is that it may not always work correctly because Apple's third-party keyboard support is less than smooth. According to an editor at BGR.com, while Apple's keyboard performs consistently well, third-party keyboards often experience lag and other glitches. Also, your iPhone will sometimes switch back to Apple's default keyboard, and you have to dig into your settings to switch back.

How to Change Your Default Keyboard

It's worth trying out Gboard for Android or iOS, especially if you like glide typing, one-handed mode, and integrated search. If you like Gboard, you can make it your default keyboard. You can download multiple keyboards and switch between them at will on both platforms. 

Make Gboard Your Default in Android

To make Gboard your default virtual keyboard in Android, go to Settings > System > Language and Input > Manage Keyboards. Then, tap the slider next to Gboard to turn it on.

If you own an Android device, Gboard is likely already turned on by default.

Make Gboard Your Default in iOS

To change your default keyboard in iOS, go to Settings > General > Keyboard, then select Edit and drag Gboard to the top of the list. Tap Done to exit edit mode.

Unfortunately, you may have to perform the iOS changes more than once, since sometimes your device will "forget" that Gboard is the default.