Google flexes machine learning muscles with new features for Gboard

GBoard on an original Pixel
GBoard on an original Pixel (Image credit: Android Central)

Google has added some fun and helpful new features to Gboard, which highlight its latest machine learning capabilities. In a blog post, Google showed off a new doodle-search function for emojis, predictive phrase suggestions for texting, and enhanced results for searches made from within the keyboard.

Look for the enhanced feature to pop up in the latest update for Gboard in the Google Play Store.

The feature you're likely to use most often is the new predictive phrase feature, which is integrated into the same space as word predictions. It is currently exclusive to the English keyboard and offers up logical phrase suggestions to help complete your current sentence. For instance, if you type "looking forward" Google will suggest "to seeing" or "to it" as popular options to complete or build on the thought, and saving you the time of having to type it all out yourself.

Search integration has also been improved and will now display multiple search results making it easier to use the Gboard to find and share information on the fly while in any other app. Since it's built into the keyboard, you have access to smarter search results from Google, including better integration with Google Maps and YouTube where applicable. The intention here is to make it easier to pull up information from Google without having to back out of the app you're currently using.

Last but certainly not least is the new drawing function for searching for emojis. When you tap to search for emojis with the latest Gboard, you'll find a drawing pad underneath the search bar that allows you to quickly sketch out an emoji. While it's clearly the most fun feature added here and might feel a bit gimmicky to some, it's also one of the clearest examples of how Google has been using its A.I. Experiments projects to develop smart new tools for users. In this instance, the fun little drawing game Quick, Draw! has transformed into a fun way to save time searching for the perfect emoji.

It's cool to see how Google can package an interactive machine learning experiment into a fun, viral game and then turn around and use all that data to create an intuitive new feature that's both fun and useful. Google announced that Gboard now supports over 200 languages and is bringing features like suggestions and gesture typing to more and more languages, including Azerbaijani (Iran), Dhivehi, French (Belgium), Hawaiian, Maori, and Samoan.

See at Google Play Store

Marc Lagace

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.