Google has launched a brand new application that will let iOS users perform a Google search directly from the comfort of their mobile device’s keyboard — without requiring to switch apps. The app, which is aptly — pun intended — being called the Gboard, had been rumoured to be in the development phase since early 2016.
The search enabled keyboard first came to light as early as March, when the market started buzzing with rumours of a keypad that would let users perform a variety of searches from their keyboard. Well, the app is finally here and it is every bit as powerful as we hoped it would be. However, the keyboard is available only for the iOS platform at this point.
By hitting a “G” icon that comes with the Gboard, you can immediately search Google without exiting your application, or even your keyboard for that matter. The search results are displayed right in the space taken up by the keys and no new instance of Google is launched.
The benefits of such an app are ofcourse, manifold. You can be discussing something with a friend and would be able to look any topic that comes up while talking. What’s more, you also have the option of tapping whatever you have looked up, to copy and paste it right onto your ongoing chat. So the next time a friend asks you a question on WhatsApp, and challenges you to answer it without going offline — well you know what to do.
The information appears in a card-like format, with each listing in possession of its own card to make for an easy and comfortable viewing experience despite the relatively small space available for viewing.
Speaking on the topic, Rajan Patel, Head of the product team that developed Gboard, said
We wanted to bring the best of Google to Gboard, so you’ll see Maps, Translate, image and video search, News and others.
He also added that,
Initially, Gboard will not surface any information specific to you.
Which is certainly very suggestive. Google products have been known for bringing an element of personalization and we wont be surprised if Gboard does the same.
You can also use the keyboard to search for Gifs, although the company has refrained from giving Gif search a dedicated button on the keyboard. Tap the emoji icon on your keyboard and once you are in the emojis tray, find and tap a button at the bottom that lets you switch over to the GIF search section. The section is actually pretty handy and along with the in-built image search, is sure to enliven up your conversations.
Google has also made provisions for the rapidly increasing number of emojis and you can search for them by typing the most obvious description, such as “Happy” or “Sad” or “Dog” and so on.
The only major disadvantage Gboard has, as compared to Apple’s native keyboard, is the fact that you can’t speak to type. Not by using “OK Google” or Siri or even Apple’s own dictation services. This is because Apple, for reasons best known to itself, does not allow third-party keyboards the ability to access the microphone and use it for typing.
Meanwhile, the move is an important one for Google. Not only will it allow the company to make new inroads into Apple’s relatively closed ecosystem at a much deeper level but will also significantly enhance the time users spend interacting with the company’s services. As per data from eMarketer, mobile device users this year will spend 3 hours 15 minutes per day using apps versus just 51 minutes using the browser.
The data may or mayn’t be exact, but it’s certainly a fair estimation. With a wide variety of applications, including chat, messengers and whatnot, users spend a significant portion of their time typing away. And Google, leveraging the power of its massive search network, now has something to offer them that no one else can.