Review: Gboard adds Google search box to iPhone keyboards

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Google wants its search box to be within easy reach of iPhone owners no matter what app they use. Here is Gboard, a new iOS keyboard app.

On Thursday mornings, the free Alphabet app Inc.

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Google is ready to go live in Apple Inc.

Application store. It will challenge other alternatives to the original iPhone keyboard, including Microsoft Body

Word Flow and SwiftKey, as well as Swype, Fleksy, Minuum, and KuaiBoard.

The iPhone keyboard area may be crowded, but Gboard, which I’ve been testing for the past few days, stands out. The most useful and unique feature is its built-in Google search box, something not even found on Android, Google’s own mobile operating system. Press the G in the upper left corner of the keyboard and a search box expands.

In this mode, your three most recent search terms appear first, and as you type, Gboard comes up with familiar Google predictions. The search results are displayed on the maps above the keyboard. Every search result you get (web links, sports scores, weather reports, music lyrics, YouTube videos, a location in Google Maps) can be shared as a link in messaging or social apps just by tapping on the result .

Among Gboard’s search results: YouTube videos, Google Maps links and weather reports.


Photo:

Alphabet Inc.

Since this is the Google keyboard, Google search results are linked to Google services (Google Maps instead of Apple Maps, YouTube instead of iTunes) or Google search results in your web browser. iPhone. For example, when I typed in “Buy Captain America Movie Tickets”, Gboard gave me a link to Google.com (which opens in Safari) where I could purchase tickets from the Fandango website. It didn’t send me to the Fandango app installed on my phone. When I type an address into the search box, the first search result is that location in a Google Maps link. (Gboard is pushing users to the web because it’s not yet integrated with other apps, a Google spokesperson said.)

The search experience is quick and easy, and it’s useful when messaging with friends and making plans like where to eat, as you never have to leave the app you’re in to get tickets. useful information to share.

There are a few things missing from Google’s search function, however. There is no voice search and certainly no “OK Google” here. And Google Now’s predictive organizer isn’t integrated like it is in the dedicated Google search app for iOS, so the keyboard won’t give you quick access to appointments, inbound deliveries, and flights. future.

As a keyboard, it surpasses most of the competition. Like many of them, you can spell words by sliding your fingers across the keys. Word prediction is great when you start using Gboard, and it gets smarter with use – the more you type, the better it can guess which words you want to use, as long as you allow Google to track what you type. It also intelligently suggests emojis when typing words. When I type “yes” it suggests “thumbs up”. A “awesome” triggers the trendy “100” emoji.

Gboard offers Word, Emoji and GIF keyboards.


Photo:

Google Inc.

If you press the emoji smiley menu button, you will also find a library of GIFs, sorted by categories such as “high-five”, “clap”, “thumbs up”, “angry” and “puppies” .

As much as Gboard packed, it lacks a one-handed input mode, like Microsoft’s Google Keyboard Android and Word Flow offering for iOS. Also, you cannot change the color or size of the keys like you can with Fleksy. And there are no shortcuts for saved text like you find in AI.Type and KuaiBoard. If you’re looking to customize a keyboard, Gboard isn’t for you.

It’s for people who want a simple keyboard with swipe gestures, easy-to-access GIFs, and a search that you can reach without having to bounce around different apps. And that’s for people who want Google to be front and center on their iPhones.

Write to Nathan Olivarez-Giles at [email protected]

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