Google’s Gboard is already one of the best keyboard alternatives android users can have to their pre-installed native ones. It can be considered the smartest way to communicate on a phone and has a lot of perks, given its direct link to Google search and all the company’s artificial intelligence-powered predictive and natural language capabilities.
Now, with an update rolling out to the Android version of the app today, Gboard has become more awesome. Google’s keyboard now recognizes hand-drawn emoji and will now predict full phrases instead of just the next possible word. The changes are expected to come to the iOS version sooner.
The draw-an-emoji feature seems like it will be a more fun than it is practical, but it’s still an interesting experiment in trying to make the texting experience easier. Now, you’ll be able to tap on the emoji handwriting button to draw an emoji right on your screen, says Google. Gboard will then automatically recognize this drawing and show results that match the emoji in question. How well this will work for emojis outside the simpler ones, like a happy or sad face, remains to be seen.
Now, in addition to making word suggestions as you type as most modern keyboards do, Gboard will suggest phrases. For example, if you type “looking forward,” Gboard will suggest “to seeing” or “to it” as you type. Gboard is able to make these smart suggestions through its use of machine intelligence – it knows what words occur in a language, and which words are likely to follow other words, so it can guess what you’ll say next.
This will be available starting today in English, but Google says other languages will be supported soon.
Searching in Gboard is also being improved with this update, as the app will now offer multiple results for you to browse through when running searches from the keyboard. The search cards will be more interactive, too. When you click on a card, you click through to go to Maps, call a business, or watch a YouTube video.