All About the Gboard Keyboard for Android and iOS

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

Gboard is Google's keyboard for mobile devices. It's available for both Android and iPhone. The company released the iOS version months before the Android version. They have similar features, with a few minor differences.

keyboard

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For Android users, Gboard replaces Google Keyboard. If you have the Google Keyboard on your Android device, update that app to get Gboard. Otherwise, you can download it from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Gboard for Android

Gboard adds some great new features to the best features the Google Keyboard offered, such as one-handed mode and glide typing. Whereas Google Keyboard had only two themes (dark and light), Gboard offers 18 options in several colors. You can also upload your image, choose to have a border around the keys, and display a number row. You can also designate the keyboard height using a slider.

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

Other settings include enabling keypress sounds and a popup of the letter you typed after a keypress. The latter can be helpful when you want to confirm you pressed 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 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 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: 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.

Gboard lets you switch among multiple languages (it supports more than 120) with a key press. Don't need that feature? 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, opt to display a voice input key.

There are also numerous autocorrect options: Block suggestions of offensive words, suggest names from your contacts, and make personalized suggestions based on your activity in Google apps, for starters.

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 devices, so you can use your lingo without fear of an awkward autocorrect. You can also disable this feature, given that this convenience means giving up some privacy to Google.

Gboard for iOS

The iOS version of Gboard has most of the same features as the Android version, with a few exceptions—namely, voice typing, as it doesn't have Siri support. Otherwise, it includes GIF and emoji support, integrated Google search, and glide typing. Google does not store predictive search or text correction 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. It may not always work correctly, because Apple's third-party keyboard support is less than smooth. According to an editor at BGR.com, 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.

You may have to perform the iOS changes more than once, because your device might "forget" that Gboard is the default.

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