Plenty of little companies make those free software keyboards, of course. But how weird is it that two behemoths — Microsoft and Google — both turn out to have been working on iOS keyboards in parallel?
In any case, Microsoft struck first with its Microsoft Flow keyboard last April. Its chief virtues are a clever one-handed typing layout, a spinning emoji palette, and the freedom to dial up any colors users want.
And a few fdays later, the Gboard has landed: Google’s clever (and cleverly named) keyboard for the iPhone, containing features that even Google's own Android phone keyboard lacks.
As always, the iPhone makes it possible, but not simple, to install alternative keyboards. As always, these keyboards work identically in every app—messaging, email, notes, whatever. And, as always, users can switch among their installed software keyboards by tapping the little globe icon (or using it as a menu).
Google’s new iPhone software keyboard offers four powerful features that users don't get with Apple's built-in keyboard.
The big one is a Google logo right next to the autocomplete suggestions. Users can tap it to open a Google search box, right there on their screen.
From here, they can perform Google searches — for restaurants, addresses, articles, definitions, flight information ... anything, really. That comes in handy really often. With each search, users save themselves some flipping around into their browser or another app to find the info they need.
As expected, the company says emphatically that their search terms are the only bits of data that get sent to Google; the keyboard doesn't send or collect any other information.