Google Keyboard

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.


Reader comments

Google Keyboard now available directly from Google Play


"Country Virtuoso Roy Clark!"
Now, I do not understand this... but it made me laugh and shared it with my girlfriend. She laughed, too.
(Roy Clark is actually a cool dude, too)

I'm keeping SwiftKey fort the themes, but this Google one slides better than Swype. And I love the floating words.
Dang Google, I'm all man... and I want to have your baby. Just for the child support I mean. :-)

How is this fragmentation? Its just an app that you can install. Please do a little research before presenting your thoughts. Thank you.

This is great. This is only bad for the people that put the stock keyboard on Google play for download. Its nice to now have something official.

Its about time. Its obvious Google is taking back control of any updates they can without having to wait on the carriers anymore. Almost everything outside of actual Android updates (like 4.1 to 4.2) they can control themselves now and push them out as soon as they are ready. I welcome the change.

Now the next thing we need to do is make all of the Google Apps & services marketable on Google Play. Meaning they should have some type of graphic right when you open the front page of Google Play explaining to normal customers the advantages of using Google services and apps over OEM's

The problem with this is it could be seen as anti-competitive due to Google promoting its own services over competitors'. The regulators in the US and EU would probably have a field day demanding Google to change this behavior, demand fines, or both.

This. I think Google is handling this very well. Don't push their apps on people, let word of mouth and great experiences with quality applications do the work for you.

Agreed. I haven't seen anything better than Swiftkey and can't seem to use other third party or stock keyboards.

Am I the only one who hates Swiftkey? I mean it's the only keyboard I will ever use, but every time I type, it's nothing but errors, and jumbled words.

I had the same problem with it. I gave it a good go but I went back to Swype when they released a Play store version and it's much much better for me.

I feel your pain! I, for some unknown reason, love SwiftKey, even though it CONSTANTLY types words COMPLETELY different than the one I'm trying to type (as if it's telling me, "No, that's not what you really meant!"), and when I backspace ONE, SINGLE character, the word I intended to type appears as a suggested word(?!!)!

I get the biggest chuckle when I sometimes get a notification from SwiftKey that they've "saved me 50,000 keystrokes" - obviously, they're NOT counting the 100,000 ADDITIONAL keystrokes I made because of backspacing & correcting! :-)

I would check the settings, maybe something is screwed up. My typos dropped to almost nothing once I got it set up properly and gave it time to learn my habits. And I just figured out that you can delete words by long pressing them, because if you make a typo a few times then it will think you want it in the dictionary.

I only use Swiftkey on my Nexus 10, as the landscape stock keyboard is just a hassle for me. Everything else, stock Google keyboard. They've come a long way since the days of Cupcake.

For me, Swiftkey was the LEAST evil of the options out there until now. But I don't need all the bells and whistles it offers and it actually caused as many errors as it corrected. This is a cleaner, simpler experience; I love my phone again.

Swiftkey FTW!!! Seriously, though, I'm glad that they are putting the official stock keyboard on the Play Store. More choice is always good.

Why does everyone mention fragmentation as if it's something new? Isn't that the entire downside of open source methods? Thanks to those of you who stated the obvious for the rest of us.

Good lord, how many hours have I spent tracking down and installing stock keyboard apk's on Sense and Touchwiz phones these past few years? Too many. This is awesome.

It's great to see Google doing this. Remember when updates to Gapps came only with new versions of Android? I'm kind of shocked Apple hasn't followed suit. These updates plus Google Play Services make version updates seem kind of old fashioned (although please 4.3 soon).

Nope. Swype has different themes to change the trail. Typing with Google keyboard on my work gs3. Looks like a version 1.0 of swype lol

I'm in Canada, and I got the update pushed to my Nexus 10 and Galaxy Nexus. Probably one of those staged rollouts.

I'm glad more people get to use this keyboard. I paid for Swiftkey back when it was on sale and used it for quite some time. Despite everybody telling me how much better Swiftkey is at everything I still prefer the feel and responsiveness of the stock 4.2 keyboard.

I think a lot of people who say this keyboard isn't as good as others haven't used it in a while. I'm not saying that personal preference doesn't play a huge part in it, but the stock keyboard has improved immensely with the last few iterations and you might enjoy it if you give it another try.

I think SwiftKey is better at completing sentences while the Google keyboard has a better feel when swiping and just typing. I do agree that the Google keyboard does feel better.

The Nexus 4 keyboard is the first one I've found swiping actually useful on. In fact, I think it does a better job of correcting your typing in swiping mode than in normal typing. I guess swiping requires a more intense prediction algorithm, but either way, it does a great job of 'spell correcting' whereas autocorrect tends to fight me.

I wish swype or Google would utilize a way of swyping multiple words in one continuous motion, like flow does. This is especially handy with the spen. Otherwise, the swype and Google keyboards are more accurate when using a swyping action. I still love the way predictive text works on Swiftkey, though. When plain typing, I've found nothing that beats swiftkey. Can someone just create a keyboard that does everything?! (Maybe even one that cooks breakfast)

Cosign. Google did a really good job with it. SwiftKey lost me when introduced Flow- It sucks

It seems to update over the stock version of Google Keyboard on my Nexus 4. I don't know if there is any benefits to that... So I uninstalled it.

Well.. I'm really not sure, but when I got home. I checked the play store, and it showed up as an update... So I installed.

Un expected but... its not still available in Europe ...Google photosphere camera also needed in Google play. .coz Samsung users have Samsung camera. We would like to use Google camera.......

Nice move by Google, would've killed for this in my pre-Nexus days.

Have to say though I've gone Swype-exclusive lately. The standard Google keyboard got me into swiping, then when Swype hit the Play Store I bought it and realised how much better their gesture support is compared to Google's version.

I have a feeling that we'll see a better camera (and app) with the Motorola Xphone. With all of the hype and the pressure on Google and Motorola to actually put out a good camera and app this would be the phone to showcase it.

Started with Swype several years ago. Couldn't cope with the constant "beta program" for non-OEM phones. Went to SlideIT for a while, until I got a new phone that had a built-in sliding feature (HTC). After a couple of other attempts at sliding keyboards I pined for Swype. When they showed up on the Play store for $.99 I couldn't resist. It is better than ever, and I have no desire to try anything else including this new Gboard. It would have to be some kind of accident that would make we want to change again. Never say never, but I'm not moved to move.

So basically, while Microsoft and Linux try to cram everything but the kitchen sink into the OS itself, Google is trying to separate features OUT of the core OS to make updates easier.

Makes sense.

I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. For my non-GMail e-mail accounts, I usually just download the dedicated app for it. Usually provides a bunch better experience than the stock e-mail app.

I have non-Exchange self-hosted domain emails. IMAP (or POP...ick) only unfortunately.

Since Google Apps basic is no longer free, I can't/won't move them over. I'm far too cheap.

Since moving to Android a year ago away from the iPhone, my biggest gripe has been that for the most part the keyboards. I have felt that most if not all of them just simply aren't up to par. After moving to the Nexus 4, I realized that the stock Android keyboard is where it's at! Glad to see it's now official!

I wish Swiftkey had the fluidity of the stock keyboard. Or that stock allowed for easy addition of new words and more than one language simultaneously

Wow, they improved the add to dictionary function as well (touch to save). Now you don't have to click OK again and have the whole keyboard jumping around.

Beside that, adding more languages was already possible.

I agree the typing on Google keyboard feels better than SwiftKey. Although, I find there are more steps to insert symbols.
This is a good step though for Android. The stock keyboard on my Stellar was frustrating to type accurately.
And unfortunately, my N2 is no better. I will give the Google keyboard a whirl for awhile.

If you have a Nexus device, the change is minimal. But this makes the stock Android keyboard available to people using devices that come with proprietary keyboards (TouchWiz, Sense, etc) as their defaults.

This is much better than the keyboard HTC included on the Amaze 4G. Between Nova Launcher and the new keyboard, I almost feel like my phone is running Jellybean!

This is just Perfect! I was looking the other day on the play store for something like the nexus keyboard because i don't like the keyboard on my s4 and BAM there you have it! Thaks Google!

There is a bug where if you use the Search bar, or address bar in the Browser, it does not show suggested words in the space above the keyboard. So if you are swiping out a word, and it picks one you don't want, you have to keep backspacing until you swipe in such a way that it gets the word you want. eg while v whole.

The suggestion bar is there when composing a text though. Very odd.

That's not a bug, that's by design. Both the search bar and address bar have their own suggestion/autocomplete features, and if the keyboard didn't disable suggestions the two would fight and you get things like the doubledouble bug that used to plague swiftkey.

I don't have two, or one. I have none. So I have to tap words out. Swiping only works if i get the word right. Maybe I'm missing something?

I like how Google is making more and more of the stock apps available in the Play Store. I still prefer SwiftKey to the Google Keyboard since it supports multiple languages at the same time.

Totally agree, I hate having to manually switch languages when typing. I just want to type and have SwiftKey figure out which language the word I am typing is.

Ive been using swype since the touch pro. I have tried swiftkey, the samsung keyboard which uses swiftkey technology, slide it and others and I always come back to swype within a day but for over 24hrs I have stuck with the google keyboard. I actually like it a alot. There are still a couple things that I have to see if I get used to but so far its a good keyboard.

I have a fully up to date Nexus 4 and this appeared as an update, so why do I need to install it as I already have this keyboard? Should I just delete the update?

It's an update to the keyboard so you can install it on the Nexus 4, I did and it's fine, perhaps a bit better on word correction although I can't say for certain.

They keep putting all the default apps in the playstore, is this a move to do away with the Nexus line eventually? Once all the default stuff is there, what's a reason to get a Nexus when you can Nexusify your Android by installing all Google's apps. All they need is the nexus launcher now and you can pretty much have a nexus with any phone.

It does feel as if they're diluting the Nexus brand a bit, especially with all 'Nexus Edition' phones they're doing for their competitors.

Swype to SwiftKey to this. I like them all for slightly different reasons, but you know what I like best about Google doing this? THE SCREENSHOTS IN THE PLAY STORE FINALLY TOLD ME HOW TO USE THE KEYBOARD PROPERLY!!! Seriously, there seems to be no documentation on gesture trail shortcuts (like for punctuation and stuff) but now that I know all of this it is *SOOO* much easier to use. I really like the layout... I'll give it a good test drive and see where I end up.

I wish they would add better emoji support so we could actually TYPE the emojis themselves instead of having to spell out the word. Very impractical IMO. What's the point of having an emoji dictionary if they are so hard to access?

Anybody else notice how the keyboard layout is different for tablets and phones? Nexus 7 and GS3 here. Specifically, on my Nexus 7 the numbers are not overlaid onto the alpha characters and the exclamation mark is moved all the way over to the right by the question mark.

Kinda makes it hard to get used to a keyboard to be efficient with it... Might go back to SwiftKey simply for this reason.

I wish all developers (including, and sometimes especially, Google) would list why permissions are needed for apps. I'm not putting on the tinfoil hat, but I'm cautious about what I install, and it seems like lots of devs just throw in permissions that really don't seem necessary for their app to function. I think Google has even admitted to this in the past. Their apps request all kinds of stuff.

Why does the keyboard need access to read my contacts or download files without notification? I assume that it reads contacts so that it can predict names that you type often, and I assume that it downloads files without notification so that it can update the dictionary, or something like that. But just tell me that in the description. Then I can make an informed decision whether I trust the dev or not.

Having said that, I really like the keyboard on my N7, so it's great that I can install it on other devices now.