Google Keyboard update brings KitKat features, drops the holo blue

A little KitKat style on any device running ICS or above

The Google Keyboard is getting a nice update that brings it right up to speed with the latest KitKat features and styling, offering what was only available on the Nexus 5 for a few days. Now any device running Android 4.0 or above will see the newer black and grey look (no more holo blue here), along with a few new features. First up, the long-press menus have been revised and you now access emoji rather than just basic smilies if your phone supports it.

The update also adds "space-aware gesture typing," which is just a fancy way of saying you can swipe over the space bar rather than lifting your finger between words. You'll also see a better punctuation layout across phones and tablets of different sizes, making the best use of the real estate at hand.

You can grab an update to the latest Google Keyboard and get a taste of KitKat on your own device at the Play Store link above.

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

92 Comments
  • Maybe this will pull me away from Swiftkey... Maybe... Posted via Android Central App
  • Not after SwiftKey's last update. That pulled me of the Google keyboard. All those layouts are fantastic. derp
  • I couldn't really find any use for the layouts the main thing I like about swiftkey is that I almost never have any wrong keys pressed I think its letter spacing. Posted via Android Central App
  • Totally agree
  • They are fantastic indeed! Half of my 2012 Nexus 7's screen is unresponsive, so I use Swiftkey's Undock layout and I can finally use the keyboard on the other side of my Nexus 7 that is responsive. I really do need a new Nexus 7 though..
  • I had left Swiftkey for the Google Keyboard when I got my N4. But with the latest update to Swiftkey I am back 110%. The new quick resizing, repositioning, and undocking mode have won me over. They all work so seamlessly too. Oh and cloud syncing is handy.
  • I tried, but I keep going back to Swiftkey. Hard to beat their keyboard.
  • Anyone dig the swype keyboard? It came on my galaxy s2 and I've loved it ever since. Even when it guesses the wrong word, its correction its at the top of the screen. Posted via Android Central App
  • Not for me. The Google keyboard sucks ass for me. In Australia we use US-input keyboards but we use UK spelling. Google keyboard can't wrap its head around that. So I end up with US based spelling suggestions or a UK layout keyboard.
  • Full emoji layout only on 4.4+ a.k.a exclusive to the Nexus 5 (until they decided that they've sold enough and want to release it to everybody). :(
  • None if you use gmail but if you use hangouts, you have full access to emojis anyway.
  • i was wondering where they were. thanks for the info
  • Google has its own iWnn IME emoji keyboard you can download as a language pack for any phone and switch to at anytime. If running stock google keyboard you can quick switch to it by holding the spacebar down. Or pull down the notification shade and switch the input there. Comments won't let me post URL right now.
  • Not the same emoji layout as the ones that work only with 4.4+
  • OK, but it is a work around if you must have emojis.
  • THIS 3VO via Android Central App
  • I miss the blue. The keyboard lacks contrast now. Posted via Android Central App
  • I understand what you mean by it lacking contrast my guess is that thy chose these colors going forward because 4.4 is kind of grayish Posted via Android Central App
  • I thought my phone was broke when I seen the grey until I realised it auto updated. The blue looks a lot nicer Posted via Android central app on my rooted LG Google Nexus 4
  • I loved the blue!!! Especially compared to this awful beige.
  • I also dont like how long pressing the period only gives you very limited punctuations whereas before it gave you almost all. Why would they take away some of these smart features in an update
  • It looks really bland. Would rather use iOS 7 and that says a lot from a Android user Posted via Android Central App
  • I downgraded to the old keyboard already! This is crap! And I'm already use to the last one so... Posted via Android Central App
  • I think I'm going to do the same, this one has some cool features but it got rid of somv features also. Just not worth it for me right now.
  • I want the emoji icons from Hangouts but I'll take this =(
  • " Android central is the " Now the world may never know... I think he was going for beat. Android central is the beat.
  • I believe you are correct! "Beat" sounds like what he was going for, especially with their video intros. *unce unce unce*
  • The suggestions on the keyboard in the picture give you a 66% chance to get it right :P .
  • SwiftKey is better especially after their latest update. Posted via Android Central App
  • Still friggin' US-Only ¬¬' BTW, SwiftKey has confirmed it's working on Emoji support. If they add that AND a top number row, I'm sold. I'll even sign off my house to SwiftKey (OK, not that much... maybe my dog's).
  • But what if Google Keyboard adds a top number row, first?
  • The world will implode.
  • Actually I just heard back from SwiftKey, and they ARE working on a top number row, also :) BTW, the spacebar thingy? SwiftKey got it first. Sure, swiping was Swype's baby, too...
  • In the advanced settings menu you can add the English (US)(PC) custom input style to get a number row.
  • Let me download in the UK, using it now. Where in the world are you? Posted via Android Central App
  • He's Carmen San Diego. Posted via Android Central App
  • Are you sure it's Carmen? I was leaning more toward Waldo.
  • Here in England, where in the world is Carmen San Diego? Isn't really a thing, and Waldo is called Wally... Ah, cultural differences. Posted via Android Central App
  • When will Google add one handed keyboard like the one that is offered by Samsung? That's the only thing I like about Samsung's keyboard. Google would be amazing with that.
  • I haven't used the Samsung one, but I use the Google keyboard one handed, how does it differ? I imagine gesture typing being tricky with two hands lol Posted via Android Central App
  • When more than three people want it.
  • SwiftKey keyboard has that now.
  • This update is terrible. I got it yesterday on my Moto X. The keyboard is now harder to use as they removed items from long press menus. And the color is just an ugly gray mess. Nothing stands out. Very disappointing update.
  • I think the lack of color in KK blows! The holo blue color is great. Posted via Android Central App
  • RIP #33b5e5 Posted via
  • Lol Posted via Android Central App
  • Never forget... Posted via Android Central App
  • Yeah, I am sad. Kind of annoyed google left a lot of the popup menus and things within the OS blue which looks out of place.
  • The worst thing about this is they removed the ability to decide where the voice icon is. I always changed it to "voice input on symbols keyboard" so as to have the comma available on the main keyboard. Now the voice key is either on or off. If it's on, it bumps the comma to the symbols keyboard or to a long press. So now I just have voice input turned off because I type commas a lot. I miss the option. Posted via Android Central App
  • You just solved an issue I had. I never realised how to have the comma key placed on the left, replacing the voice input, which I never use anyway. Posted via Android Central App
  • Haha, well, one person's problem is another's solution I suppose. Glad I could help. ☺ Posted via Android Central App
  • Same situation, I hadn't been using the Google keyboard because of the lack ability to stick the comma on the left, this completely sorts me out =D. Registered just to thank you, Cheers!
  • Ugh, I can't believe they moved the comma. I swear I was so confused after the update. Why the hell is there an _underscore_ where there used to be a comma. God. Damn. Them. Turning Voice Input doesn't work for me because I still use it occasionally.
  • Ugh, so much lack of contrast! Also they've taken a lot from the press and hold on the full stop (period) key. Bad Google, Bad! Posted via Android Central App
  • AT&T Galaxy S4. I wonder why they don't give you access to the emoji already built into Android Jellybean? Even if they are just B&W...
  • Try kii keyboard A.I. keyboard, or Multiling O keyboard
  • I miss the blue. And Google, please stop changing the key placements.
  • Does anyone know why when I use emojis and send text to my wife on her iPhone it comes up boxes and question marks? Posted via Android Central App
  • Does the app she is using support emoji?
    Do you see an emoji when she sends it to you? What app do you use to send her emoji?
  • Here's an idea: throw away her iPhone. Posted via Android Central App and Droid Mini
  • Exactly^^ LOL Posted via Android Central App
  • The only thing I don't like is that there is still no swype support for other languages. I'm using the Cyanogen mod keyboard. Exactly the same look and options but swype is supported in other languages as well. Posted via Android Central App
  • Come on Google still no long press for symbols like @&#. It's literally the only thing keeping me off the your keyboard Posted via Android Central App
  • Is it bad that I'm still rock'in (and love) the Gingerbread keyboard/layout?! HAHA.. Just got the Google keyboard update and HATE IT! F that!
  • Can't they make it like Notes 2 keypad. I like number on top. It is easier. Posted via Android Central App
  • Really like the new neutral colour scheme. Can't wait for the Nexus 4 KitKat update, to make this stuff system wide! Posted via Android Central App
  • A lot of menus, mostly the popup menus, do have blue in them still. They kind of did a half ass job unless that was their intention.
  • I still think the Samsung Note 3 keyboard is much better than this crap google keyboard. .not only the Samsung Note 3 keyboard has top number rows but also has its own emoji icons as well.
    Loving the Note 3 keyboard and my Note 3..! Posted via Android Central App
  • Can the Note3 keyboard be ported over here Posted via Android Central App
  • One warning, the characters have moved on number screen, took 25 wrong password entries before I realised this! Posted via Android Central App
  • I actually like the new keyboard. I don't care for the way they moved my exclamation mark but hey, I'll cope. Posted via Android Central App
  • Aww, I miss the blue. At least the swiping is more accurate so far, anyway. Posted via Android Central App and Droid Mini
  • Still can't install in my country (Argentina) Can anyone explain me why?
  • I like the blue... :-( Posted via Android Central App
  • Really wish Google would add arrow keys like SwiftKey. Major item I particularly miss when using the Google Keyboard.
  • They also moved around some of the keys on the number keyboard - annoying as all heck, because my muscle memory types & instead of * now. Any idea how much that is when you're sshing into machines? Gah. Stop changing stuff for the sake of changing it, Google!
  • Still no local language... Boooo (thumb up for the space aware gesture!) Posted via Android Central App
  • I do like the new no lift off swyping feature. It does need some massive improvement though Posted via Android Central App
  • The blue looked so much nicer
  • I agree. I miss the blue. The grey swipe looks really bad to me. Perhaps even white, would have looked better than the grey.
  • Stupid emojis. Before the update it was great. I used just a one standard smile anyway. But now I have to tap at least :-) 3 to get one. Hate it so much. Though new space button feature is neat you may now quit reading my post-Post forum signature:-)
  • Used to move Swiftkey and still do. Used them since SwiftkeyX. However their flow through space never worked properly for me.. It was on and off. This keyboard on the other hand got the keyboard working much better!! Posted via Android Central App
  • They changed some of the buttons around so the punctuation like the exclamation mark is on the other side of the keyboard now. Took me a few tries to realize that. Also the expanded punctuation from the period has less stuff now.
  • I know, that's my one gripe... !!!*** Posted via Android Central App
  • I like the whole idea with swiping over the space bar but it needs to improve. Posted via Android Central App
  • I like the whole idea with swiping over the space bar but it needs to improve. Posted via Android Central App
  • -del-
  • I hated the blue. It made if impossible to see the numbers in sunlight. Posted via Android Central App
  • Have to say SwiftKey has gotten even better.... The new Forrest theme is pretty slick too. Posted via Android Central App
  • I kinda like the new scheme :-D Posted via Android Central App from Nexus 7 2013
  • Loving the new update! The emojis on Google keyboard only work in 4.4 or later. Posted via Android Central App
  • Oh look! Another US only release from Google.