Living with Gboard

I’ve switched iOS keyboards, and maybe for good. There are a lot of things to love about Google’s new Gboard keyboard for iOS and I have so far only encountered the slightest of downsides. Gboard, like all third party keyboards, does not have access to the dictation button (the microphone to the left of the space bar). To get it back, tap the globe icon to switch back to the original keyboard and the dictation button pops back into place.

Some things I like about Gboard:

  • Though some folks have complained that the Roboto font looks out of place (it does look different, no doubt), I actually prefer it. It’s drawn with finer lines and I find it easier to read (and detect boldface in) the suggested text.
  • I love the use of boldface in the suggested text. If one of the 3 suggested words is in boldface, hit a space and that word is entered. Hit a backspace and it goes back to what was there before. Sort of like the standard keyboard, but the standard keyboard requires an additional tap to get back to what was there.
  • I love slide typing. It works especially well for long words. I have yet to successfully type the word GIF with slide typing, though. Pilot error?
  • GIF searching is a nice bonus. I don’t use a lot of GIFs in my tweets, but likely this is because it was too much of a hassle. Gboard makes it super easy to find the GIF you want. Maybe too easy?
  • And then, of course, there’s search. Perhaps the best feature of all. Tap the search button, type in your search, tap a result and it’s in your text. Easy peasy.

Some folks have suggested that this keyboard is a wedge into iOS for Google. I see the logic, but I don’t see it as a problem for Apple. If Apple was unhappy with the direction Google took Gboard (if Google changed their privacy terms, for example), it’d be easy enough for Apple to shut that door.

As is, I think Gboard is brilliant and it is now my default iOS keyboard.

UPDATE: Looks like Gboard is US only. At least for the moment.