Google Keyboard 5.0 Update Brings One-Handed Mode, Adjustable Height, Key Borders, and More
Google Keyboard was somewhat of a red-headed stepchild when it was first released almost 3 years ago. It had swipe gestures and autocompletion, but both features were immature compared to the technology offered by Swype and Swiftkey.
Thankfully, Google has not abandoned the project and has instead slowly been adding additional features to bring its feature set on par with most of its competitors. Swiping and auto-completion accuracy has also seen massive improvements over the years as Google has learned from its millions of users how best to predict what you’re trying to type. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen any major updates roll out to Google Keyboard, until today that is. Google Keyboard v5.0 is now gradually rolling out to users with possibility the biggest feature-set update we’ve ever seen before. Here’s what’s new:
- One-handed mode (right or left justified)
- Adjustable Keyboard Height
- Toggle to show borders around keys
- Toggle to allow for long-press to access symbols
- New gestures: delete words and cursor control
- New numpad/emoji button locations around the spacebar
- Opt-in to share keyboard snippets with Google to improve Google Keyboard for everyone
- All Holo themes have been removed
- New first-time user set-up screen
- Removed dynamic floating preview toggle
- Toggle to allow for insertion of a period + space by the double tapping space-bar
A text-based changelog doesn’t really show just how huge this update really is, so we’ve downloaded the update and taken it for a spin. First up, Google has finally answered the woes muttered by people tired of having to stretch their hands to reach all parts of the keyboard by introducing one-handed mode. You have the ability to toggle between right-handed and left-handed mode, depending on which side of the screen you hold the device more often. The keyboard then shifts slightly to the right or left depending on your setting. Want to switch to the other side or blow the keyboard back into its full size? No problem, just press the arrow key or the expansion key to perform either action. Finally, if you long-press on the comma key, you can quickly enable one-handed mode without having to dive into the keyboard settings. Thanks, Google!
Next up, Google has finally added the ability for you to adjust the keyboard height natively within the keyboard settings. No more DPI-changing or Xposed modules. And they didn’t butcher the implementation by giving you a preset selection of heights to pick from – instead you can adjust the height using a slider bar.
Notice something new about the screenshot on the right (besides the obvious height adjustment)? Yeah, you can now enable borders around your keys as well as expose the symbols behind the bottom two rows of letters with some new settings in this update. Minimalists might hate having this feature, but for so many people it’s nice to have clearly defined borders for when they’re trying to type while looking at their screen from an angle. In addition, the ability to quickly access commonly-used symbols via a long-press should improve your typing speed as you no longer need to switch to the full symbol layout.
And to further improve your typing speed, Google has added some additional gestures that you can use to better correct any mistakes you’ve made while typing. You can now delete words by sliding left from the delete key, a gesture many Swype users are familiar with. Furthermore, you can now control the keyboard cursor by in the direction of your choice across the space bar. Again, this feature isn’t unique to Google Keyboard, but it’s definitely a welcome addition and it may solidify your decision to migrate to Google’s offering.
Finally, Google is looking for YOUR help in improving the typing experience for all users of Google Keyboard. You can now opt-in to share anonymized snippets of what and how you type (only within Google apps, though, they won’t be snooping in to your private forum messages on XDA!) in order to help Google improve its typing and language recognition capabilities. You will be prompted to opt-in whenever you open the keyboard up for the first time after receiving the update.
Looking to download the update? You can find it over on APKMirror. Do note that this is only for ARM64 at the moment and that it will NOT install on the Android N Developer Previews just yet.
UPDATE: The regular ARM version is now available to download as well.