Gboard prepares to remove emoji handwriting, promote voice typing in India, and more

Gboard prepares to remove emoji handwriting, promote voice typing in India, and more

GBoard is one of the most popular keyboards on Android, riding the popularity charts on the back of its predictive text suggestions and swipe-typing capabilities, as well as feature integration from other Google services. While most app updates tend to bring with new features, the next update to GBoard is preparing to remove the emoji handwriting feature. To balance it out, the app will also promote voice typing for English-India and add a new clear button for voice dictation and one for emoji shortcut.

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.

Deprecate emoji handwriting

The emoji doodle search feature, which was launched back in 2017 with version 6.3 of the app, is now on its way out. Strings of code discovered in the GBoard v8.8.2.273581900 Beta point towards a new label that will alert users about the feature’s untimely demise.

<string name="emoji_handwriting_deprecation_notice_content_description">Notice of emoji handwriting keyboard deprecation</string>
<string name="emoji_handwriting_deprecation_notice_label">The emoji handwriting feature will be removed soon</string>

The feature allowed users to look up a variety of different emoji simply by doodling it on the keyboard. While it may seem quite cool, the feature isn’t really intuitive and most users would prefer using the emoji keyword search instead.

We aren’t exactly sure when the feature will be removed, but considering that the code is already in place, it won’t be long before it’s finally taken away.

Promote voice typing for English-India

While Google is removing the emoji handwriting feature, it’s also prepping up to include a couple of new features in the app. For instance, the update also reveals that Google will introduce voice typing for English-India and push a promo within the app to alert users of the new feature.

<string name="romanized_indic_voice_typing_banner">Kya haal hai?</string>
<string name="voice_banner_description">a promo to let users know that voice dictation is now available for them.</string>
<string name="voice_promo_input_method_entries_whitelist">en-IN</string>
<string name="voice_typing_banner">How are you?</string>
<string name="voice_typing_notice">Type using your voice. Try it now.</string>

The strings above clearly highlight a new banner which is essentially a promo to let users know that voice dictation is now available for them. Once again, we aren’t sure when the feature is set to go live on the app, but we hope to learn more in subsequent updates.

Clear button for voice dictation

Additionally, users who utilize the voice dictation feature on Gboard will be glad to know that the company is working on a new clear button which will allow them to delete messages with a single tap.

<string name="voice_ime_clear_button_description">Clear Field</string>

As you can see in the tweet below, the new button will appear to the left of the voice typing bar. As with the aforementioned features, there’s no clear timeline for the release date for the clear button either.

Add emoji shortcut

Finally, strings of code also indicate that Google is adding a new emoji shortcut to the keyboard which will allow users to quickly pick their favorite emoji.

<string name="access_points_order">search;sticker;gif_search;clipboard;settings;theme_setting;one_handed;textediting;share;translate;floating_keyboard</string>
<string name="access_points_order">search;smiley;sticker;gif_search;clipboard;settings;theme_setting;one_handed;textediting;share;translate;floating_keyboard</string>
<string name="id_access_point_smiley">smiley</string>

As you can see in the strings above, the “smiley” access point was added to the shortcut menu within the keyboard. The tweet below shows how the new shortcut might show up when it’s finally released.

It’s worth noting that it is possible that any of the features we mentioned here may not make it in a future release. However, historically speaking, features that go live in beta builds, like the extra tall and extra short keyboard heights we saw in version 8.7.2 of the app, usually make their way to the stable release.


Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.

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