Google Keyboard becomes Gboard, separates itself even further from SwiftKey

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.

  • 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)