9to5Google leads in the current review of the beta version of Gboard, showing us the changes that will soon be available to all users. Google is testing a new sticker tab in the keyboard. In the newest version, the sticker selection is less based on the classic Emoji keyboard, but more resembles a function known from the GIF search. Search fields and suggestion blocks can be used to add sticker collections and create them in the Keyboard tab.
On the left the original version, then Gboard 8.8, the two right screenshots show the sticker tab under Gboard 8.9 – once created as sticker keyboard and once as sticker pack search / © 9to5Google
The settings are also slightly adjusted by Google. While the height of the keyboard under Gboard 8.8 could supposedly be adjusted using a slider, the levels of this slider that were still present have now given way to a selection list of clearly named levels. From the default “Normal” level, the keyboard height can now be moved up three levels “Mid-Tall – Tall – Extra-Tall” or down three levels “Mid-Short – Short – Extra-Short”.
The height is reset and the dark mode becomes more contrasting / © 9to5Google
New also is the dark mode that’s in fashion. Those who use the keyboard in dark mode will notice clearer contrasts of the symbols in the basic settings in the new variant. The icons are now white instead of – as before – gray.
Tapping the G button to initiate a Google search
This is arguably the most reported on feature of Gboard. Gboard wouldn’t be a Google product if they didn’t somehow manage to incorporate a search function. But this isn’t just some normal Google search – it was custom built for Gboard. Instead of opening a new window in a different search app after you perform your Google search, Gboard (tries to) answer the query directly in the app in card form. Super convenient!
So how do you use the Google search in Gboard? Tap on the rainbow G in the top left corner of Gboard and enter your search phrase or query. You’ll receive multiple autocomplete suggestions – if you find the one you need tap on it. Or complete your phrase and then tap on it. And that’s it! You should be presented with a card and the answer that you were looking for.
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The power of google search at the tap of a button / © NextPit
Search for GIFS and Emojis
This was the most anticipated feature for me. As a heavy social media user, i’m prone to (over)using GIFs and emojis. As with the built-in Google search, Google decided to build in a GIF and Emoji search function. It’s worth noting that the GIF search on Android seems to be somewhat limited at the moment compared to its iOS counterpart. GIF support doesn’t seem to be working with Gmail(!), WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter on Android. I only managed to get it to work on Allo, G+ and Facebook Messenger.
To access the GIF and Emoji search, press and select the smiley on the left-hand side. At the bottom of the keyboard, you’re presented with both a smiley face and GIF. It’s all a matter of selecting which one you want to use. Now you can directly search for the elusive emoji or GIF that you want to share. Similar to a Google search, you can also search for a specific word and Gboard will come up with Emojis and GIFs that are related to that word.
It doesn’t stop there though. Gboard will also auto prompt emojis. So if you don’t feel like searching for emojis or trawling through an endless list, Gboard will automatically suggest a corresponding emoji for whatever you type.
Quickly searching for GIFs and Emojis in Gboard / © NextPit
Multilingual typing and switching between languages
Gboard has incorporated the nice feature that you can type in multiple languages without having to switch between them. All you really need to do is pick the languages that you want to use when setting up Gboard and you are good to go. Gboard for Android is smart enough (or at least it tries to be) to predict and autocorrect in the language that you are typing.
If you’re not a fan of this and want to switch back and forth between your preferred languages you can easily do this as well. Once you’ve added the languages that you want to use, you can either press the globe next to the space bar or long-press the space bar itself. Both will enable you to switch between the available keyboards.
Swipe / Gesture / Glide typing
Call it what you want – but this is a seriously handy feature if you can master it. While swipe typing isn’t new for Google keyboard, it’s been seriously improved for Gboard. The accuracy has been greatly improved and the animations now run a lot smoother. Glide typing doesn’t need to be unlocked or anything as it’s a default feature – though you can disable it in the Gboard settings. Just run your finger over the letters of the word that you want to spell and Google will autocomplete your words. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but when you do it’s a real time-saver.
Got a big phone? Struggle to reach all letters and numbers on the keyboard with one hand? Then this trick is for you. One-handed mode shrinks the keyboard and gives you the option to orientate it either to the left or right – depending on which side is for your dominant hand. There are two ways to enable one-handed mode. The first one is to simply long-press the coma/smiley key and tap on the hand and square icon. The second method to enable one-handed mode is to tap on the rainbow G at the top left of the keyboard and then tap on the hand and square icon. To revert back to the full-sized keyboard simply tap on the square comprised of the four outward pointing arrows.
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Activating one-handed mode in Gboard / © NextPit
Using the spacebar as a touchpad
Ever made a typo or simply want to delete an excess letter? Then you know how stupidly difficult and frustrating it can be select or place the cursor at the right spot. Gboard has decided to make your life a little easier by letting you use the space bar as a touchpad. Try it out! When you’re done typing simply move your finger across the space bar and the cursor will move to the left and right. Sadly this feature only works on the horizontal plane – so moving up and down between lines won’t work. Maybe Google will add this to a future update.
Deleting multiple words at once
Gone are the times when you needed to press backspace a million times to delete longer sentences or accidentally deleted too much with a long press on the backspace button. With Gboard you can now highlight and delete multiple words at once. Performing this is like a hybrid using the space bar as a touchpad and using glide typing. When you want to delete multiple sections of a text, lightly tap on the backspace button and then swipe your finger to the left across the keyboard. If you’ve done it correctly, multiple words should be highlighted. The further you move your finger to the left the more test is highlighted. The moment you lift your finger off the keyboard, the highlighted text will be deleted. It takes a bit of practice to learn not to press too long on the backspace and not to swipe to quickly to the left and accidentally deleting more than you wanted.
Adding a permanent number row
Gboard finally caught up with other keyboard apps and lets you add a permanent number row to the top of your keyboard. To enable the number row, go into Settings > Preferences > and then toggle the Number row on.
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How to enable the number row on Gboard / © NextPit
Quickly capitalize words
This tip is related to mastering glide typing. On its own, it’s probably not going to be a huge advantage to the casual user, but if you regularly use swipe technique this will definitely be an asset. Instead of taping the shift key to capitalize a letter, you can simply long-press and then glide over the letter. This will instantly capitalize it.
Quickly enter symbols
The method for quickly entering symbols is exactly the same as quickly capitalizing letters on Gboard. Simply tap on the “?123” button and then swipe over the symbol that you want to use. After letting go, the keyboard will revert back to the alphabetical keyboard instead of the symbol one.
This little tip shouldn’t be a massive surprise to most, but it’s easily missed. Instead of tapping on the “?123” button to fulfill your punctuation needs, long-press the full stop button to have quick access to a large array of symbols.
Quickly add punctuations without switching keyboard / © NextPit
Double-space as period
Another overlooked little trick. If you double-tap the space bar on Gboard, it will automatically set a period for you.
Calculator style number pad
Sometimes the default number pad is a bit cumbersome. Having a horizontal row of numbers isn’t always the best format depending on what you’re trying to do. If you fancy having a calculator style number pad, just tap on the “?123” button, and then on the 1234 key next to the space bar. Now you’ve got a more ergonomic number pad!
A calculator style number pad on Gboard / © NextPit
Everyone knows that if you long-press on a letter on a keyboard, you’ll pull up a quick selection of linguistic variations. Did you know this works for numbers as well? If you long press on the numbers in Gboard, you get a wide selection of fractions! Don’t go asking me about what you need these for though…
Fractions! / © NextPit
Frequently used words shortcut
There are some things which are a total pain to type out – I’m looking at your email addresses. Thankfully you can teach Gboard useful shortcuts by making use of the Personal Dictionary Feature. You can easily access the dictionary by going into the Gboard keyboard settings > Dictionary > Personal dictionary.
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How to set up a frequently used words shortcut / © NextPit
Removing suggested words
Have you been googling things too often that you don’t want your friends to know about? Don’t worry, we’ve all gone too far down YouTube before. Thankfully Gboard has some mercy on use and removing certain words from its memory is super easy. Just long-press the offending word and drag it into the trash icon.
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Almost as satisfying as deleting your browser history / © NextPit
Voice Search on Gboard
Too lazy to type? Your hands are busy with something else? Talk to Gboard instead. Just press the mic icon and let Gboard write what you’re saying. Be warned though – Google saves your voice data.
Talk to me Google / © NextPit
Changing Gboard themes
Just like WhatsApp, Gboard comes with a variety of themes – and you can even create your own! Tap on Settings and select Theme. You’ll be offered a wide variety of pre-selected images that you can choose from. You also have the option of uploading your own and using that your own personal Gboard theme.
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