Google released a nice update to their iOS keyboard, Gboard, earlier today.
Cursor control can now be activated with 3D Touch, which is consistent with the behavior of Apple's keyboard. Gboard can't move the cursor freely on the screen like the system keyboard, though, which makes it more limited when it comes to swiping across multiple lines of text. Also, Google didn't implement haptic feedback when switching between contextual keyboard menus (such as holding down on the dash key), which is another detail that I appreciate in Apple's keyboard on the iPhone 7.
Similarly, Gboard now features Contacts integration to look up a person's contact card directly from the keyboard – but it's not as tightly integrated as QuickType suggestions in iOS 10. However, I prefer the presentation of contact cards in Gboard and I think Google's is a sweet solution as well.
Gboard is shaping up nicely, but I continue to wish Google paid more attention to the iPad layout and built true multilingual support for international users.
Nice update to Google's custom keyboard for iOS released today on the App Store:
Gboard is already available in English across the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia. Starting today, Gboard is ready to start sending GIFs, searches, emojis and more for our friends who speak French, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal) and Spanish (Spain).
Gboard's emoji search is the best way to search for any emoji I've tried on iOS. iOS 10's predictive emoji suggestions aren't even close to the Gboard's emoji features. I was hoping iOS 10 would have proper emoji search – maybe next year.
But I'm surprised that Google hasn't shipped an actual multilingual keyboard to type in two languages simultaneously. You have to switch between international layouts inside Gboard – just like in Apple's current keyboard for iOS 9. By contrast, iOS 10's upcoming multilingual keyboard is downright amazing, and I can't go back to keyboards without multilingual support now.
Apple has introduced new Smart Keyboards for the iPad Pro with localized layouts for several languages. According to 9to5Mac, the localized Smart Keyboards include British English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and others. The keyboards are available to fit both the 9.7 and 12.9 inch models of the iPad Pro and are available from Apple’s websites in the countries where the applicable languages are spoken, along with the existing US English version of the keyboards.
Razer, best known for making mice and keyboards for gamers, announced a keyboard case for the 12.9” iPad Pro that features mechanical backlit keys with twenty levels of brightness and a kickstand that allows for multiple viewing angles. Razer’s keyboard, dubbed the Razer Mechanical Switch Keyboard, connects over Bluetooth and includes what Razer calls an Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical Switch that it says delivers ’the exact same performance and feel as a full-fledged mechanical keyboard.’ With backlighting enabled, Razer estimates you will get 10 hours of battery life. With backlighting turned off, however, Razer says its keyboard will last a whopping 600 hours. Razer’s keyboard is available for purchase in the US for $169.99 with other countries to follow.
Regy Perlera has some ideas for improving how third-party keyboards are installed on iOS and how users could switch between them. I think we're not going to see any meaningful improvements to custom keyboards next week, but I'd love to be proven wrong.
I also realized that "improving keyboards" is something I've linked quite a bit on MacStories over the years.
Despite some shortcomings in the way iOS handles third-party keyboards, they seem to have taken off recently. Just in the last month Microsoft’s Garage project released the Hub keyboard and Word Flow. Now, Google’s getting into the keyboard game with Gboard, which lets you search Google for all sorts of information.
I’ve only been playing around with Gboard for a short time, but the results have been impressive. Gboard solves a common problem on mobile devices – sharing information. Whether you’re using Twitter, email, or a chat client, it’s not uncommon to have to leave the app you are using to find the information you want to share, whether that’s a location, a GIF, a photo, or even something like a stock price or the weather.