The stock 'Nexus' keyboard app, complete with gesture typing, is now available to all Android users through the Google Play Store
Google continues the movement of its core Android apps onto the Google Play app marketplace with today's standalone launch of Google Keyboard. That's the new name for the vanilla Android keyboard app included on Google experience (stock Android) devices such as Nexus phones and tablets. The Google Keyboard app includes the full range of typing features found on current Android 4.2 Nexus phones, only now you can install it on any Android device through Google Play -- assuming you're running OS version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher.
When you first install it you'll get a short introductory guide showing you how to enable the app and use its gesture typing features. Besides that, it's almost identical to the stock keyboard experience -- fast, fairly accurate and styled after Android's 'Holo' design language. The only changes we're seeing from the old Android keyboard to the new Google offering can be found in the settings panel. The new app has a few more options, including varying levels of auto-correction, personal dictionary maintenance and a new advanced settings area. This is home to settings including vibration timing, double-tap space bar options and extra keyboard layouts like AZERTY.
The move to Google Play will allow Google to update its own keyboard experience without pushing out an OS update, something it's been doing ever since it made core apps like Maps and Gmail stand-alone. Google's also been expanding its abilities to update Android phones without changing the underlying OS, with initiatives like Google Play Services -- all part of the same push to make the platform less reliant on OS updates.
Hit the Google Play link above to grab the new Google Keyboard app, and let us know what you think of it down in the comments. If you're rocking a Nexus device, you should receive an update notification in the 'My apps' area of the Play Store app.