Gboard v6.2 Adds Cursor Control, Cut/Copy/Paste Buttons, and Prepares for Handwriting Support
Just a few short days after we published a tutorial on how to add keyboard cursors to the navigation bar in Android O, it appears that Google is finally taking the initiative to bring this feature, and more, to all users of the Gboard application. Gboard version 6.2 is now rolling out in the Google Play Store and the update is finally bringing support for features that users have been wanting for ages: cursor control, cut/copy/paste buttons, and more adjustable keyboard dimension controls. Furthermore, we’ve performed an APK teardown of the latest update and have found evidence that the Gboard app may soon provide standalone handwriting support without the need for the Google Handwriting Input app.
Gboard v6.2 Update – a Treasure Trove of New Features
Cursor Control and Text Editing Buttons
First up, the Gboard update to version 6.2 brings the much-awaited keyboard cursor as well as cut/copy/paste buttons, and more. When your keyboard displays in any text field and you press the Google logo on the Gboard app, there’s a new icon in the middle of the top row that looks like the text input cursor with two arrows to its sides. Tap this button and you should now see a new screen with a bunch of neat additions to the keyboard. You now have keyboard cursors allowing you to go left, right, up, or down in the input field. There’s also a “select all” button, two keys to navigate to the beginning or end of a text input field, your typical backspace key, and a paste key. Once you highlight some text, “select all” turns into “cut” and the “copy” button can be selected.
Apart from these major feature additions to the popular Gboard app, there’s also new features to further customize the size and position of the keyboard. When you open up the menu that allows you to move the keyboard to the left/right side of the screen, there’s a new button at the bottom that allows you to adjust the size of the keyboard or move it to any area where the keyboard is currently shown when at maximum size. The middle cursor can be dragged to move the position of the keyboard while the four rectangles on the corners can be dragged to expand or shrink the size of the keyboard. Once you’ve found a position that you like, you can press the checkmark to have the keyboard sit at that position, until you reset it using the “expand” button.
One other thing that stuck out to me was a minor adjustment to the UI of the keyboard. I noticed that the edges around each key seem to be more round. I’m not really sure if I like the new look, but it does fit with the whole “round icon” thing that Google has got going on with Android 7.1+.
Within the APK, we’ve found evidence that a future update of Gboard may bring keyboard handwriting support, which is unsurprising given that Google already has a handwriting input method available on the Play Store. Currently if you download and install the handwriting input method from Google, you can switch back and forth by pressing the globe icon on Gboard. But now, it appears that Google may be consolidating its input methods into a single keyboard after gaining a lot of valuable feedback and improving its handwriting recognition algorithms.
Gboard Handwriting Support
<string name="handwriting_speed_fast">Fast</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_speed_midfast">Mid-fast</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_speed_midslow">Mid-slow</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_speed_normal">Normal</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_speed_slow">Slow</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_speed_very_fast">Very fast</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_speed_very_slow">Very slow</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_stroke_extra_thick">Extra thick</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_stroke_extra_thin">Extra thin</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_stroke_midthick">Mid-thick</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_stroke_midthin">Mid-thin</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_stroke_normal">Normal</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_stroke_thick">Thick</string>[[!!]]<string name="handwriting_stroke_thin">Thin</string>
We can see further evidence for this new handwriting feature from a couple of new layout and smali files within the APK. The following new layout files have been added:
The corresponding smali files that implement the handwriting feature are also present, which indicates that the feature is at least partially implemented in this build, though we haven’t yet been able to use any kind of handwriting on the Gboard app without installing the Google Handwriting Input separately. We’ll keep a lookout for when this feature goes live, though, and update our readers accordingly.
I’ll continue digging around and update this article if I find anything interesting in the live build, or through an APK teardown. If you are looking for this latest release of the Gboard app, you can download it right now over at APKMirror.