The Gboard team has a reputation for rolling out updates right around the witching hour, likely aiming to rob sleep from a diligent teardown guy. Last night brought a new beta version of the app, and this one sports a new feature that's bound to save a few keystrokes: Auto-spacing. As usual, there are also some new languages, and a teardown shows a few new changes on the horizon, albeit most of them are still seated firmly in the mystery column. Grab the latest APK from the download link below to try out the new Auto-spacing feature.
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
- Auto-spacing after punctuation
Auto-spacing after punctuation
At the tail end of 2017, a teardown of the Gboard app provided clues that a new feature would automatically insert spaces after each punctuation. Now, with March coming to a close, that feature is going live with the v7.1 update.
By default, auto-space after punctuation is disabled, but it can be turned on by opening the Gboard settings and finding the switch located in the Text correction page.
Auto-spacing is pretty simple; if you type a standard punctuation, Gboard will automatically add a space after it. This includes the comma, period, exclamation, question, colon, and semi-colon. If you happen to type a space after the punctuation, Gboard is smart enough to ignore the first one.
Note: It seems to take a few hours for features to activate after installation of a Gboard update. If you don't have the auto-space option available when you check, try again in a few hours. It's also possible this is a staged rollout, but there's no clear evidence of that yet.
New and renamed languages
Almost every Gboard update brings a set of new languages, and this one doesn't appear to be any different. This is a list of names extracted from the APK, but not all of them have been checked to ensure they're not already present or that they're available as of the latest update. These will be double-checked later today.
- ak_XF: Akuapem (Ghana)
- ak_XG: Asante (Ghana)
- bah_BS: Bahamian Creole
- bgq_PK: Bagri (Pakistan)
- bhb_XD: Bhili (Devanagari)
- bjj_IN: Kannauji (India)
- cdo_CN: Eastern Min
- hak_CN: Hakka
- hif_XA: Fiji Hindi (Fiji)
- hlb_XF: Halbi (Odia)
- ii_CN: Nuosu
- kha_IN: Khasi
- lus_IN: Mizo
- nan_XA: Southern Min
- pfl_DE: Palatine German (Germany)
- sxu_DE: Upper Saxon (Germany)
- twd_NL: Tweants (Netherlands)
- vas_IN: Vasavi (India)
- vro_EE: Võro (Estonia)
- wbr_IN: Wagdi (India)
Notably, there have also been a few corrections made to existing language names:
- act_NL: Achterhooks -> Achterhoeks
- ktu_CD: Munukutuba -> Kikongo-Kituba
- lrc_IR: لۊری -> لری
- ve_ZA: Tshivenḓa -> LuVenḓa
- vep_RU: Vepsä -> Vepsän
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.
Country-specific TLD options in Asia
Some people may not know about it, but you can long-press the period key to open a picker for choosing a TLD. The options have always been the same, regardless of settings and geography, but that might be changing. There are new strings that seem to suggest users in Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan will be seeing a new country-specific TLD included in the list.
Follow-up: Make a GIF
There's still work progressing on the Make A GIF feature. While it still doesn't appear to be live, there are a couple of interesting strings. The first is only really compelling because it's stacking an emoji in there to show people they're going to be recording something to make their GIFs.
The other line also doesn't reveal much, but it does show the keyboard will need camera permissions, which means it's going to host the camera interface. There were also several other related lines, but nothing that presents any remotely new information.
Now we're getting into the territory of experiments that don't come with enough information for any good guesses. The first up is Digit Mode. There are four lines that show it can be enabled or disabled, but that's about as much as these strings say.
<string name="enable_digit_mode">Turn on digit mode</string>
<string name="disable_digit_mode">Turn off digit mode</string>
<string name="digit_mode_enabled_mode_content_desc">Digit mode enabled</string>
<string name="digit_mode_disabled_mode_content_desc">Digit mode disabled</string>
Another mystery feature is referred to as Pill UI. It's certainly a weirdly named feature, and may relate to either large or small changes.
Truth is, there are a lot of extra on/off settings that may have assorted experiments behind them. I'll leave the list here, but there's not enough in the names to guess at most of these, and the few that do have meaningful names are promising changes that probably don't require much attention... But I'll leave them here for anybody that wants to skim through.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.