The best part of GBoard, Google’s new keyboard for iPhone that came out today, is that you can use Google search — including helpful predictive results — from right there within the app. You can also use Google Image search to find static images or GIFs. Everything about texting now seems easier.
GBoard displays the newly redesigned Google “G” in the top left of the keyboard where word suggestions would normally be, and a simple tap gives access to the search bar. It works and displays the same results as a regular Google web search would, but it’s optimized for mobile. The keyboard works across all apps on your phone, of course.
The popularity of Facebook Messenger, GroupMe, and of course Snapchat has been in part fueled by the user’s desire to share images rather than text based communication. Giphy has attempted to capitalize on that by offering its GIF database to apps such as Facebook Messenger and Group Me, which both boasted growth rates of 138 percent and 92 percent, respectively, between 2014 and 2015.
But, until now, GIF integration hasn’t been added to one of the most popular messaging apps, iMessage, which Apple claims services “several billion” messages a day.
Installing a third-party keyboard can be a little clunky — so many steps! — but once you’re set up, it sticks to apps and conversations so you don’t have to hit an extra button each time to enable it.
Holding the globe button in the bottom left of the default keyboard displays the other third party options including GBoard. Once selected, GBoard will remain up for that conversation until you decide to change it again, but you’ll have to repeat that process for each conversation chain. Those preferences were even saved after restarting the device.
Once everything is set up, it makes for a highly enhanced experience. No more exiting iMessage to copy and paste an address from Safari and no more external GIF searches and wonky URL’s to GIFs. Just plain, hilarious GIFs.
The keyboard also allows for gesture typing, which isn’t available on the default pad. Users have been turning to third-party keyboard apps to get that functionality ever since Apple allowed its installation in 2014 with the release of iOS8.
One drawback: it doesn’t fix the bad display between iMessage and Android SMS. Address cards that appear neat and clean on iMessage came in three separate texts to Android devices in our use.
Not everyone will want to be bothered with the hassle of changing out keyboards, but, for those who do, the experience is worth it.