Recently, Google’s unassuming and appropriately-named Android Keyboard went through a huge overhaul. It’s now called Gboard, and funnily enough, it’s currently one of the most feature-rich keyboards on Android.
Chances are you’re already using it, as it comes preinstalled with many phones running stock Android. Gboard has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. You can search Google right from the keyboard, search for and send GIFs, and do all the things you’ve come to expect from a modern smartphone keyboard.
If you aren’t already using Gboard, download it (or update the Android Keyboard app), switch to it, and get exploring!
Download — Gboard for Android (Free)
1. Google Search in Your Keyboard
It is, of course, right in the name. Once you’re up and running with the Gboard app, you’ll see the Google button in the top-left corner of the keyboard, next to the suggestions. Tap on it, and you’ll see a Google search bar right in the keyboard.
Search for something — a company’s name, a restaurant, a song, time in a different country — and you’ll see a result in the keyboard. Tap on the Share button below the card and the link will be pasted in the conversation you’re in. It’s a simple thing, but it’s a huge time-saver.
2. GIFs and Emojis
One of the things that makes Gboard the most interesting and fun is its ability to search through a large database of GIFs and emojis. Search, select, send. You no longer need to go to a different app to do this.
I wish this feature was a bit more obvious (funnily enough, it’s actually better placed in the Gboard app for iPhone). There are a couple ways to get there. The best way is to tap and hold the Enter key till you see a popup with the Emoji button.
You’ll see a Google search bar on top that will say Search emojis. Type in a search term, find the emoji and tap on it to send it along.
From the bottom, tap on the GIF button to switch to the GIF tab. From here, search for a GIF, tap on it and it will be sent. Sadly, the GIF feature isn’t supported for all chat apps right now, the biggest culprit being WhatsApp.
3. Trackpad Mode
Text selection is a big problem on touchscreens. You just don’t have precise cursor control. Gboard has a feature that makes this easier, at least in text boxes. You can move the cursor by swiping left or right on the space bar.
You can also easily delete multiple words at the same time instead of tapping the backspace button to get rid of a letter with each tap. Just tap on the backspace button and swipe left. The text will be highlighted and as soon as you release your finger — poof! — it’s gone.
4. Quickly Access the Alternative Keyboard
Whenever you want to enter commonly used punctuation marks, like an exclamation point or a question mark, you usually switch to the numeric keyboard using the ?123 button. In Gboard, you can access these punctuation marks, along with shortcuts for brackets and more by simply tapping and holding the period button.
5. Translate Right in the Keyboard
Gboard now comes built-in with Google Translate. You can translate words and sentences between two languages. There are 90+ languages to choose from. Once you’ve written the text, tap on the G icon and select Translate. Then from the box on top, select the language you want to translate to.
6. Create Your Own Text Expansion Shortcuts
If you use your Android phone for work related communication, you might end up typing the same thing multiple times. Create your own text expansion shortcuts for these phrases in Gboard, and you’ll end up saving a lot of time.
Go to Settings > Language & Input > Gboard, and select Personal Dictionary to add a phrase and its shortcut.
7. One-Handed Mode
If you’re having trouble reaching all the way to the other edge of the screen when you’re trying to type with one hand, consider switching to one-handed mode. Tap the G icon and then select the one-handed mode button. Gboard will now be docked to either the left or right side. Tap on the arrow button to switch it to the other side.
8. Change Themes
One of the best things about Gboard is that it is truly customizable. While you won’t find an entire app store for whacky themes, Gboard’s theme selection is quite good, polished, and well-designed. Plus, there’s a killer AMOLED Black theme. You can also enable key borders if you want.
Tap on the G button, select the Theme button (the one that looks like a paint palette), select your theme, and you’re good to go.
Oh, and there’s a way to take your keyboard game to a whole new level of crazy. Gboard lets you use any image as a background for the keyboard. They provide you with a handy collection of landscape photographs, but nothing’s stopping you from importing your own photos.
9. Remove Auto Suggestions
We’re quite used to keyboards suggesting words, sometimes before even we’ve typed them. But from time to time, things can go wrong, and you don’t ever want Gboard to suggest a particular word ever again. In that case, tap and hold the suggestion and drag it up towards the delete icon.
10. All the Other Things
On top of all the exciting new features, Gboard is still a solid, reliable keyboard. It has all the features that keyboard apps have accumulated in the past couple of years.
Gesture Typing — Just glide your fingers on the keyboard, one letter to another and by the end of the word, Google will have figured out what you wanted to type.
Voice Typing — It’s no secret that Google’s speech-to-text engine is among the best there is. And dictating a large piece of text is a great way to save time. In Gboard, you’ll find the mic icon in the top-right, next to the suggestions. Voice typing no longer takes up the whole keyboard. Tap anywhere on the keyboard to stop typing.
Double tap the space key — Another old trick that’s still gold. To insert a period, just tap the spacebar twice.
Capitalize shortcut — Select a word, tap on the shift key, and you’ll cycle through different options. All caps for the entire word, caps off entirely, or just the first letter capitalized.
Do You Use Gboard?
Do you use Gboard for googling and sharing links? Or do you use it for sharing GIFs? How have you customized it? I’m on the AMOLED Black theme with no background and no key borders — but I’m interested to hear how you customize your keyboard.
Share with us in the comments below!