Last month, Microsoft launched its Word Flow keyboard - originally designed for Windows Phone - on iOS, offering impressive text prediction, attractive customization features, and a rather nice 'arc' mode for one-handed use.
Today, Google is launching a new keyboard for iPhones, and as you might expect from a company best known for its search engine, the key differentiator here is search integration, as it explained today:
Say you’re texting with a friend about tomorrow’s lunch plans. They ask you for the address. Until now it’s worked like this: You leave your texting app. Open Search. Find the restaurant. Copy the address. Switch back to your texts. Paste the address into a message. And finally, hit send.
Searching and sending stuff on your phone shouldn’t be that difficult. With Gboard, you can search and send all kinds of things—restaurant info, flight times, news articles—right from your keyboard.
To access the integrated search functions, you tap the 'G' logo to enter your search terms, and the results are presented as 'cards' showing key information, which can then be easily shared in emails, instant messages, and the like.
Like other keyboards on iOS, Gboard works in any app, but its functionality isn't limited to just Google searches. You can also use it to quickly search for emoji on your handset, rather than scrolling through endless menus to find the one you're looking for, and it can even be used to search for GIFs for those occasions when an amusing animation is worth a thousand words.
Gboard also supports Swype-style input, which Google refers to as 'Glide Typing', allowing you to slide your finger across the keyboard rather than typing individual letters.
Gboard is available to download now from the App Store - but currently only in the United States. Support for other markets and languages will come later.
You can get a quick overview of its key features in the video below: