The Gboard team has unleashed a fresh beta of version 7.3. There's nothing immediately popping up as a brand new change or feature, but there is a lot to look at in the teardown. There are some big practical features coming, like OCR and improved handling for Battery Saver mode; but there are also some fun features like a text tool and new special effects for your custom GIFs.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are wrong or inaccurate. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that products could change or may be canceled. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

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. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.

OCR

There may be some OCR functionality coming to Gboard in the near future. Unfortunately, there are no concrete details to this one, only a single line with the name and title. However, the name of the string does match up with the names of the other toolbar features that can be accessed from the expanded menu button on the left (if you don't have the big 'G' search button enabled instead).

<string name="id_access_point_ocr">ocr</string>

This is an interesting idea, as it likely means users will be able to either take existing images stored on their device or possibly open a camera to scan something immediately in front of them, then paste the contents of the image as text into the current app. Of course, we can already do this with Google Lens, so it's not exactly a new capability, but it would likely be a bit faster and more convenient if it's done entirely inside of Gboard.

Annotating (adding text to) GIFs

Most GIFs do plenty to convey meaning, but some of them may need a bit of help. Gboard will be adding a new text tool to make that a little easier. You'll soon be able to add your own phrasing on top of a GIF to really punch up the meme factor.

Text can be added, edited, and deleted while you're working on your GIF, and you can choose from seven different colors: Black, Blue, Green, Purple, Red, White, and Yellow. I'm not entirely sure if this is limited to just the Make A GIF feature, as the names of some strings would imply, or if you'll be able to modify GIFs from the Internet, as well.

Quote
<string name="text_tool_content_desc">Text Tool</string>
<string name="makeagif_a11y_deleted_text">Deleted text</string>
<string name="makeagif_a11y_edited_text">Edited text inserted into GIF</string>
<string name="makeagif_a11y_editing_mode">Editing mode</string>
<string name="makeagif_a11y_inserted_text">New text inserted</string>
<string name="makeagif_a11y_no_text_to_insert">No text to insert into GIF</string>
<string name="makeagif_a11y_text_transformed">Text transformed</string>
<string name="makeagif_text_annotation_done">Done</string>

<bool name="enable_make_a_gif_text_annotation">false</bool>

<string name="ink_color_black_content_desc">Black</string>
<string name="ink_color_blue_content_desc">Blue</string>
<string name="ink_color_green_content_desc">Green</string>
<string name="ink_color_purple_content_desc">Purple</string>
<string name="ink_color_red_content_desc">Red</string>
<string name="ink_color_white_content_desc">White</string>
<string name="ink_color_yellow_content_desc">Yellow</string>
<string name="ink_font">sans-serif-black</string>
<string name="ink_color_selected_a11y">%s selected</string>

<array name="ink_colors">
<item>@color/ink_white</item>
<item>@color/ink_black</item>
<item>@color/ink_red</item>
<item>@color/ink_yellow</item>
<item>@color/ink_green</item>
<item>@color/ink_blue</item>
<item>@color/ink_purple</item>
</array>
<array name="ink_colors_content_desc">
<item>@string/ink_color_white_content_desc</item>
<item>@string/ink_color_black_content_desc</item>
<item>@string/ink_color_red_content_desc</item>
<item>@string/ink_color_yellow_content_desc</item>
<item>@string/ink_color_green_content_desc</item>
<item>@string/ink_color_blue_content_desc</item>
<item>@string/ink_color_purple_content_desc</item>
</array>

New effects for Make A GIF

Google is adding more effects to the Make A GIF feature, and this time it appears they were sourced from a couple of outsiders. The additions are called white hearts, overflowing bag of popcorn, and window shade rolls up.

<string name="makeagif_filterdesc_heartzoom">White hearts</string>
<string name="makeagif_filterdesc_popcorn">Overflowing bag of popcorn</string>
<string name="makeagif_filterdesc_window">Window shade rolls up</string>

The strings tell us the names of the effects, and we can probably guess roughly what each one looks like, but it's the names of the filenames of the icons that tell us where these animations come from. The first two, hearts and popcorn, also include the name Erik Carter, which is almost certainly the illustrator and animator @erikinternet on Twitter. The final effect, window shade, bears the name Jack Sachs, likely @Jack_Sachs on Twitter.

There's no sign that the new effects are live yet, but judging by a tweet from Erik Carter, we can probably expect to see them remotely enabled very soon.

Battery Saver support and a dark theme

Most apps don't really change their behavior based on Battery Saver mode, leaving that responsibility to the operating system. However, it looks like Gboard may be taking a more proactive stance. According to some new lines of text, when your phone is conserving power, Gboard may begin shutting off stickers and bitmoji.

So far, enabling Power Saver mode hasn't made any functional difference in my tests, but Gboard does now show a toast message when you enter the stickers screen to let you know that it's enabled.

Toast message when battery saver is active.

One final item of note is a new option that will have Gboard switch to a dark theme when battery saver mode is enabled. This should be helpful for all of the OLED screens out there that are much more efficient when they're producing less light. The setting will appear in the Advanced setting screen once this feature goes live, but there's not much else I can say about it right now.

Quote
<string name="sticker_battery_saver_error_title">Battery Saver Is Turned On</string>
<string name="sticker_battery_saver_error_message">Please turn off battery saver to use stickers in Gboard.</string>
<string name="bitmoji_battery_saver_error_message">Please turn off battery saver to use Bitmoji in Gboard.</string>
<string name="sticker_battery_saver_error_button_text">DISABLE BATTERY SAVER</string>

<string name="setting_battery_saver_theme_switching_title">Switch to dark theme in battery saver mode</string>

<string name="pref_key_enable_battery_saver_theme_switching">enable_battery_saver_theme</string>
<string name="system_property_enable_battery_saver_theme_switching">ro.com.google.ime.bs_theme</string>
<bool name="supports_battery_saver_theme">false</bool>
<bool name="pref_def_value_enable_battery_saver_theme_switching">false</bool>

New languages

I can't check out all of these, but here is a list of new languages named within the APK.

Language tags

  • Dogri [doi]
  • Konkani [kok]
  • Balkan Romani [rmn]
  • Santali [sat]
  • Talysh [tly]
  • Vietnamese (VNI - experimental) [vi_ZZ]

Sub-locales

  • Afar [aa]
  • Arabic (Gulf) [ar_AE]
  • Bashkir [ba]
  • Bislama (Vanuatu) [bi_VU]
  • Bukusu (Kenya) [bxk_KE]
  • Buryat (Mongolia) [bxm_MN]
  • Buryat (Russia) [bxr_RU]
  • Chavacano [cbk_PH]
  • Chokwe (Angola) [cjk_AO]
  • Kashubian (Poland) [csb_PL]
  • Chuvash (Russia) [cv_RU]
  • Dinka [din]
  • Lower Sorbian (Germany) [dsb_DE]
  • Manx [gv]
  • Hausa (Ghana) [ha_GH]
  • Hiri Motu [ho_PG]
  • Kalaallisut [kl]
  • K?lsch (Germany) [ksh_DE]
  • Komi (Russia) [kv_RU]
  • Cornish (UK) [kw_GB]
  • Ladino [lad_BA]
  • Lezgian [lez_AZ]
  • Latgalian (Latvia) [ltg_LV]
  • Masaba (Uganda) [myx_UG]
  • Picard [pcd_BE]
  • Balkan Romani (Bulgaria) [rmn_BG]
  • Balkan Romani (Macedonia) [rmn_MK]
  • Vlax Romani [rmy_AL]
  • Siberian Tatar [sty_RU]
  • Talysh (Russia) [tly_RU]
  • Zhuang (China) [za_CN]

Localized names for sub-locales

  • Lubukusu [bxk_KE]
  • Буряад [bxm_MN]
  • Буряад [bxr_RU]
  • Chavacano [cbk_PH]
  • Chokwe [cjk_AO]
  • Dolnoserbšćina [dsb_DE]
  • Κυπριακά [el_CY]
  • Hausa [ha_GH]
  • Hiri Motu [ho_PG]
  • K?lsch [ksh_DE]
  • Kernewek [kw_GB]
  • Ladino [lad_BA]
  • ????? [lez_AZ]
  • Lumasaba [myx_UG]
  • Picard [pcd_BE]
  • ?????? [rmn_BG]
  • ?????? [rmn_MK]
  • Romani ?hib [rmy_AL]
  • ??????? [sty_RU]
  • ?????? [tly_RU]

Variants

  • ?ERT? [asertt]
  • Bench [bench]
  • Bhili [bhili]
  • Neo2 [de_neo2]
  • Eastern Min [eastern_min]
  • Fiji Hindi [fiji_hindi_devanagari_dynamic]
  • Ge\'ez [geez_dynamic]
  • Gorani [gorani]
  • Ingush [ingush]
  • Karachay-Balkar [karachay_balkar]
  • Khorasani Turkic [khorasani_turkic_latin]
  • Lezgian [lezgian]
  • Northern Sami [northern_sami]
  • Qashqai [qashqai]
  • Southern Min [southern_min]
  • Surjapuri [surjapuri]
  • Tausug [tausug]
  • Upper Saxon [upper_saxon]
  • Vasavi [vasavi]

Download

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.

Gboard - the Google Keyboard
Gboard - the Google Keyboard
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free