Gboard 9.5.3 reveals that the custom emoji “Minis” feature is on the chopping block

Gboard 9.5.3 reveals that the custom emoji “Minis” feature is on the chopping block

When it comes to its own suite of apps on Android, Google does a great job of adding new features, optimizations, and improvements. However, the company often also deprecates many such features from its apps without providing any explanation. For instance, we recently discovered that the company plans to kill off Google Chrome’s bottom tab “Duet” experiment, which has been in development for well over two years. And now, according to a new string of code spotted in Gboard version 9.5.3, the company is preparing to axe the custom emoji “Minis” feature from the keyboard app.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

Google recently started rolling out version 9.5.3 beta of the Gboard app, which introduced support for next word prediction and spelling correction to handwriting keyboards for faster typing. While the update didn’t include any other user-facing changes, we spotted a new string which suggests that the custom emoji feature Minis will “go away soon.”

<string name="deprecate_minis_banner_title">Note: Minis will go away soon</string>

As of now, it isn’t clear when Google plans on deprecating the Minis feature. However, since Google has already added this new string to the app, we believe that the feature might be removed in the next stable Gboard update. Currently, we have no idea if Google will let users keep their custom stickers and emoji or if they will be removed from the keyboard app along with the feature.

For the unaware, the Minis feature has been available on Gboard for about two years now, and it allows you to create personalized stickers using machine learning algorithms. The feature initially allowed users to create two sticker packs with their selfies, but later added a third Emoji option that lets users create a personalized emoji version of their face.

Gboard - the Google Keyboard
Gboard - the Google Keyboard