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Google Keyboard becomes Gboard, separates itself even further from SwiftKey

Gboard
Gboard (Image credit: Android Central)

Following the launch of the "Gboard" keyboard for iOS earlier this year, Google is now rebranding Google Keyboard on Android to the same Gboard moniker. At the same time, Google is adding several new features to both match Gboard on iOS and also offer more customization choices for Android users. The move comes not as a separate app, but simply as the version 6.0 update to the Google Keyboard app in the Play Store.

Arguments about whether "Gboard" is a worse (or more confusing) name than the simple and self-explanatory "Google Keyboard" aside, there are some great improvements in this latest update.

The biggest visual change is the inclusion of a new tab on the left side of the recommendation bar, which when tapped reveals quick buttons to perform a web search, change themes, enable one-handed mode and access the settings. One-handed mode and settings are still available by long-pressing the comma key, and if the only feature you want out of this is the Google Search key you can enable it as a standalone "G" key in the settings.

The power of Google Search in every app you can type into.

When you perform a Google search through Gboard, the results come back as a replacement for the keyboard. The results are presented as a card with the information you requested, along with button options at the bottom for follow-up questions, much like the interface for typing to Google Assistant inside Allo. You can tap a "share" button in the bottom-left corner to push the information into whatever app you're typing in, along with a Google Search link to the result. You can instantly see how this would be useful for quickly looking up information while typing instead of jumping back to your home screen to search separately.

Further, you can also now enable a standalone number row at the top of the keyboard, as well as search for emoji inside the emoji picker (also immensely useful). The update rounds out by providing updates to multilingual support, letting you have multiple active language with a "preferred" main language.

Whatever the name of the keyboard app itself is, this is a rather nice update that brings the power of Google Search directly into your keyboard no matter what app you're using. Big updates to Google apps often take a while to roll out, but if you have the Google Keyboard app installed (opens in new tab) now it'll be turning into Gboard shortly.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

141 Comments
  • Will be trying it out! Hopefully there's a way to turn off search suggestions.
  • hah, my first thought too. probably speaks a little about whether this new feature is more annoyance or helpful
  • Holy s h ! t iz that a dedicated number row I see? Are my eyes deceiving me, going to the play store pronto......
    Btw imo touch wiz is the best
  • Didn't the original have a number row for a very long time now? Posted via Android Central App
  • Yes, you're right
  • Time to give it a whirl
  • Please, please make it possible to use multiple languages without having to switch between them, like in SwiftKey. How is SwiftKey still the only keyboard to be able to do that?? Someone needs to make something to get me away from the laggy mess SwiftKey has become.
  • This update specifically adds that: "The update rounds out by providing updates to multilingual support, letting you have multiple active language with a "preferred" main language."
  • Yeah, I obviously fail at reading. Thanks!
  • It still doesn't compare to SwiftKey. It says one language is the "preferred" one. Gboard has never been a real competition to SwiftKey and probably never will.
  • Preferred schmeferred, I've been trying it out all day and had no trouble code-switching between English and Spanish, even mid-sentence.
  • Great to hear (read) that. Now I can give it a try.
  • Gboard blows Swiftkey out of the water and now that Microsoft owns Swiftkey, I'll never use it again.
  • HOW exactly does Gboard blow Swiftkey out of the water?? I have used Swiftkey for a few years and would need some convincing to change.
  • Agreed. I keep coming back to SwiftKey. The fact that Gboard doesn't remember my email addresses is enough. I've never had a problem with SwiftKey lagging over several years.
  • I used SwiftKey for about 1½ years but have up on it due to the lag. Google Keyboard never lags. I'm looking forward to the update.
  • It did lag a lot and severely at times Posted via Android Central App
  • That is the one reason I went back to swype. It doesn't remember my email addresses.
  • Well for One, GBoard doesn't lag like SwiftKey and it's predictions are much better and I trust Google way more than anything Microsoft.
  • I don't know about Swiftkey, but since the Gboard update, Gboard lags a lot... Especially when we start to type text
  • Said no one ever :)
  • Agreed, it lags hard these days. Uninstall....
  • Excellent news, I'll be very glad for this update.
  • I will try it out... I had to switch back to SwiftKey due to multilingual support... Now Google has it.
  • Still haven't found a compelling reason to leave SwiftKey
  • It became REALLY laggy for me, which is the reason I switched. In terms of features and prediction, it's still the best. If it runs more smoothly for you than for me, then I'm jealous.
  • Try turning off the keys pop up, it helps.
  • Pop-up keys is a pretty important (to me, at least) basic feature, though. Turn that off, and the keyboard becomes significantly less useful.
  • SwiftKey just isn't as smooth as Google or Flesky, but it has tons of options. Unfortunately most of them I do not need. But I had to keep using SwiftKey because Google doesn't spellcheck/suggest in address bars and other places. Maybe they added it in and I can finally switch.
  • Wish it can predict emojis instead of going to an other tab.
  • I use the Gboard on iPhone, and just sideloaded it on to my HTC 10. I like the new features, number row, etc. However, I think I'll stick with the old HTC input method/keyboard since I'm accustomed to the arrow keys and themes.
  • Please don't tell me that's TouchPal you're speaking off :P
  • No, I disabled TouchPal right away. The old HTC input method from the HTC One M series is still available in the Play Store (and it automatically changes to match the selected HTC theme).
  • Do you really like the G board on iphone? I find input to be more cumbersome than the iOS keyboard.
  • Whoe dude! Gboard man? Like totally bro, knarly... ;p
  • Finally been using it on my iPhone for the longest and happy to finally have it on my Pixel. This is one of the best porducts Google has ever made. Now they just need to get there messaging solution right
  • Besides the search engine I imagine and Android OS itself, but, yes, quite the accomplishment for them.
  • Doesn't seem to be available yet. All I see is Google Keyboard. No Gboard. The Google Keyboard I have installed does not seem to have the functions mentioned here either. I wonder when they'll roll the changes out to everyone.
  • I'm guessing it's gradual, probably between now and tomorrow we will see the update
  • The APK is available to download right now at Android Police. It's just an update, so you'll need Google Keyboard installed first.
  • I still haven't seen the update available. I downloaded the apk to see what it was like but I deleted it cause I wanted the real update. I'm getting so annoyed waiting this long.
  • APK Mirror my friend
  • With how good Google keyboard has become, we must be close to them scrapping it and starting from scratch with something horrendous.
  • Google certainly does not know how to leave well enough alone.
  • At first I laughed at your comment them realized that it's not one tiny bit funny. Still pissed that they deprecated MyTracks and Picasa (PC)... both perfectly good apps that I used all the time.
  • Using it now. The apk is out there and I really dig it.
  • I still haven't seen the update available. I downloaded the apk to see what it was like but I deleted it cause I wanted the real update. I'm getting so annoyed waiting this long.
  • The APK ~IS~ the real update.
  • Lol
  • But does it have fun themes? I love my Christmas themed keyboard on Swiftkey.
  • You can add your own pictures as themes so you could customize it that way.
  • I think its time to switch.
  • Next week it'll be the chrome board.
  • Lol
  • Not seeing this update yet! Anxiously awaiting though. As long as these stock apps are good, keep them coming. More reasons to delete other apps off my phone and use native apps
  • I still haven't seen the update available. I downloaded the apk to see what it was like but I deleted it cause I wanted the real update. I'm getting so annoyed waiting this long.
  • Would really love if they made the emoji selection fluid, like scrolling through a web page. So tired of having to slide my finger all the way across my phone to switch emoji selections. Fluid side scroll please!!!
  • I hope it finally matches Swype. I don't know why, but I really like how Swype works better than any other keyboard. The only problem with Swype is that recently it started not auto spacing with typing in Chrome. It's a lame bug.
  • I only use 4 different emoji in conversation, but now I have a bunch of random emoji in the recent emoji list after someone used my phone. I just want a way to clear the recent emoji list. Otherwise, I've been happy with Google Keyboard for a long time. Also, was the dedicated number row not already a thing? I could have sworn that I had seen it before in Google Keyboard.
  • I think the number row only showed up when you were typing in a password field.
  • I still like SwiftKey better. I've grown to really like it over any Google keyboard Plus it has fun themes
  • Same
  • Everything should be G. Hangouts would be 10x more popular if it was called Gchat.
  • Good work outta you, I gotta agree with that one
  • Gangouts?
  • The dedicated number row, a few of the themes, and emoji predictions is what kept me using SwiftKey. Google has remedied most of my complaints slowly but surely with the last few updates. I'm gonna test it out again for maybe a solid month, so far I will say it's smoother than SwiftKey which stutters here and there some times. SwiftKey kills it with word prediction though, hopefully Gboard can match it after a little more use.
  • Most important is that Google keyboard doesn't synchronize across devices. It's an issue from long time now. We always have to save our words in Google keyboard using a different phone app the time. Synchronization very much needed across devices
  • Sync is available in the menu
    Input > Gboard > Dictionary > Sync learned words
  • It might be getting synchronised on that device but it does not synchronize between different devices. And doesn't appear in the learned words dictionaries of the devices.
  • It does in the newest update.
  • Did you check in two device of different brands or operating os
  • The words added by you are not available in the Personal Dictionary when you switch or factory reset but they'll still be suggested, like before, when you type.
  • Yes I see that they are suggested. But the what's the use of showing personal dictionary.
    Some times we can't even add a word.
    When we add it force closes
  • I agree that they should sync and show words added in Personal dictionary.
    It was buggy for me at first when it became Gboard but I think there was an update that fixed those issues. At least I haven't faced any issues lately.
  • Tried Swiftkey it was laggy on my 5x. Google KB has always worked great on it.
  • Used this on iPhone and just switched back to Android. It is the best keyboard ever, and super useful! I'm so glad they've finally brought it to Android, surprised it took so long. Everyone is going to love it!
  • It's really better but.....It still doesn't predict/learn emails and doesn't predict in certain fields (omnibox for starters.). I have 2 really long emails so this might be a non starter
  • Some ppl will just never be pleased.......
  • Set the emails as shortcuts
  • the old one worked fine for me. isn't adding another row just going to reduce the real estate for content even further. we will have a full screen keyboard and not be able to see what we are typing before long
  • Finally multilingual, I'll give it another shot.
  • Swiftkey is definitely laggy. I hate that. I just wish there was another keyboard as good as their prediction though
  • If only it had GIF support like Fleksy. Have Gboard on my iPad and its Gboring like most Google apps..
  • Gboard does have gif support under the emoji menu plus it can be customized (6.0 update)
  • Hopefully Google fixed the responsiveness issue in the update to Gboard. I wss forced to switch to Swype keyboard because I could not stand the keyboard randomly stop 'swyping' a word without increased pressure on the keyboard or deleting whatever word won't complete and starting over. Additionally, the predictive input would stop working when the keyboard wouldn't respond.
  • wow. such innovation.
  • If only more keyboards would have the T+/compact/SureType-style configuration. Unfortunately, it's one of the only reasons I use TouchPal on my Galaxy S7. I've tried every keyboard out there, and try as I might, I just can't use a regular layout keyboard without an actual headache. Haha. It would take a long, long time and tons of typing to get used to it.
    It's really too bad, since all of these updates sound pretty cool.
  • About time!
  • Lag gone? Not checked
    10 key numeric input? - check
    I am getting used gboard, looks ok, autocorrect/prediction is kinda funky. I don't care what they call it as long as it works. Swiftkey has become horrendously laggy especially in web pages, but gboard doesn't seem to be much better.
  • This is fantastic! I love the idea of being able to search using the keyboard directly. And the idea of emoji popping up as you type is great...was the only great feature I found on Windows Phone. The multiple languages is well overdue...and the "preferred" language is smart! Excited for this update!
  • Gboard sounds like a rip off of Google keyboard
  • Updated this afternoon. This keyboard is AWESOME now. Unbelievable
  • I still haven't seen the update available. I downloaded the app to see what it was like but I deleted it cause I wanted the real update. I'm getting so annoyed waiting this long.
  • It needs a damn dark theme!! It's too damn bright!! C'mon Google! Stop being so boring!
  • Dude it has several themes, including a dark one. What are you on about?
  • Since when?? I've never seen the option to change it.. But then again I just stuck with SwiftKey and never looked back. Lol
  • Oh nvm I see it. You have to really dig into the settings. I woulda never noticed. Lol
  • You don't even have to go into the settings menu to change the theme. Just click on the arrow button on the left side of the suggestions row, and then the theme button is right there.
  • I'm talking about the old Google Keyboard version. I didn't get the Gboard update until this morning.
  • Not only that, you can change the background to a custom image :)
  • Cmon Google Samsung Keyboard the best! ;)
  • FWIW switching off the key pop-up in SwiftKey really fixes the lag. I use GBoard on my iPad, it's better than the crappy iOS keyboard, but I'm sticking to Swiftkey on my 6P for the peerless prediction functionality.
  • Shouldn't have to turn features off for basic performance
  • I am looking forward to trying Gboard. I've been using a side loaded BlackBerry keyboard that I really like on a Nexus 6...
  • At least I know it will be better than the iOS implementation, no fault of Google's.
    When entering in passwords the Gboard would often revert back to the default (and horrible) iOS keyboard. If you backspaced after typing a couple of characters it would bounce back to Gboard. Figure it's got something to do with Apples wanting to protect passwords for their users but it was a mess as usual.
  • Yep, that's an iOS restriction, not Google's fault.
  • Just received the update on my S5. All I can say is WOW!!! Love the new options. Really love that search within the keyboard. I would like to see eventually is a larger height for the keyboard. I have it set at the tallest but would like to see an option to adjust like in the ai keyboard. Still this Gboard rocks!! 👍
  • I really enjoy the new keyboard. They've invested a lot of effort into getting it right apparently.
  • Glad to get the update today.
  • Gave it a whirl and switched right back to SwiftKey.
  • Yep. Basically
  • Trying it out now. So far it seems just as good as Swiftkey without any trace of lag. Looking good!
  • Is anyone having problems with using the gif keyboard? Ever since it was out, I haven't been able to use it, except in the stock messenger app. I get the toast message "this text field does not support gif insertion from the keyboard" anyone else experiencing this?
  • that error explains the problem... i dont understand what u r expecting from the community here.
    need to contact developer to fix that
  • I was expecting to see if anyone else was experiencing the same problem and to see if they had any info on it, I wasn't expecting anyone to fix it for me, and I've been in contact with Google for the past 2 weeks and they still have no clue. So, that's why I'm asking here. I'm not sure if you just assumed that I don't know what I'm doing.
  • I'm seeing the same message too. On my 5x with 7.0, gif works in Messenger (Google, not FB) but not in Hangouts or Gmail. On my Nexus 9 with 7.1.1, does not work in Hangouts or Gmail there either. All the posts say it's supposed to work in those apps. The apps are up to date.
  • I get that message when in an app that does not support GIF. Try going to a messaging app and trying. I can use it then.
  • The G search in the keyboard is in fact a better use of Allo smart bot capabilities than Allo. This keyboard is awesome!
  • Awesome keyboard. Just replaced my BlackBerry keyboard on my dtek60 and certainly prefer it for the most part. Wish it had the swipe up to select predicted words and swipe to delete but even still.. it's better overall. Good job Google.
  • So all this typing that we do going straight to Google's metadata archives like all other google things?
  • Go to the keyboard settings/advanced. Turn off the Share Usage Statistics and Share Snippets. These things do not bother me. I prefer to try to help improve the product.
  • Odd, on my OnePlus 3, top right corner of the keyboard is a Google logo (which I like) for access to features, and on my pixel, it's just a little arrow. Does anyone know why there's a difference? Afaik the settings are identical on both
  • I tried it out today and got rid of Swiftkey. This much better and faster as well with no lag. I'm using it on my note 4.
  • I've been a long, long user of Swiftkey, but I'm going to commit to using Gboard for an extended time, to give it a thorough trial. There are lots of things I like about it right off the bat, but I still feel SwiftKey's ability to predict text (often two words at a time!) is a game changer for me. I've never had the lag issues others mention in SwiftKey, but it may be because I've had the pop up keystrokes turned off. I'm also a pretty heavy user of swiping, too.
  • Wow. Very good upgrade. Loving it so far!
  • Is there the option to turn off Google search? I'm not going to upgrade unless the option is there to shut it off. Thx. M.
  • Yes. It was off by default when I upgraded, in fact.
  • Mucho gracias, Kimosabe! Your reply is greatly appreciated!
  • I've been a long time user of SwiftKey and decided to change to gboard. First impressions amazing.its going to take some getting used to but already love the smooth typing. The best feature for me is the g search button. The convenience is without a doubt a genius implementation. Okay so prediction initially seems better in SwiftKey but the search functionality is that good I will be staying with this!
  • As usual, no support for G-Suite users. Google, why? Same with play music family, why? So disappointed.
  • Tried it for several hours and just couldn't. It's just not as smart as SwiftKey, lag or not. The predictions aren't as good, I hated scrolling sideways forever just to find an emoji and also it never predicts the emojis I wanna use. For example, on Swiftkey if I type "fire" it predicts a fire emoji. Gboard doesn't. Also I like having arrow keys under my keyboard. Just wish SwiftKey didn't get hung up so much..
  • HM... Seems a bit more accurate than SwiftKey... SwiftKey has slipped a bit of late...
  • That is pretty slick! Wow.
  • So i am typing this on the Gboard and don't see anything different or mind blowing. My test is if it'll capitalize i which i can see it doesn't. I don't know why i won't but that bothers me. I i i i i ..🤔🤐😴😫😤
  • I'm having issues trying to choose the custom theme, using my own image. I get the pop up to allow Gboard to access photes.. Then I get the screen overlay deteced.. It says it has to be turned off.. I disable it but I still get this message each time. Anyone else? What am I doing wrong?
  • Great keyboard
  • I have tmobile s7 edge phone. I updated to Gboard n I Gboard doesnt allow me to add GIF.
  • Not all apps support GIF. My stock Verizon messaging app does. Try some messaging apps to see if it works.
  • Can't resize the keyboard. I know the feature is in the preferences, but it doesn't work
  • Great Keyboard but it does not Capitalize at all and yes I have it enabled. If this fix this bug and provide more color options it will be the best out there IMO.
  • I wish Google would release these same features for Hangouts on desktop -- at the bare minimum emoji search like Gmail desktop has. Feels so inconsistent when I can do advanced stuff from my phone yet not my computer when using the exact same messaging service.