Gboard's latest update is out, but there no particularly notable differences have been spotted lurking in the interface. Instead, this update seems to be preparing a couple of changes that will end a year-long run for the Make A GIF feature and bring a couple data privacy options to users.

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.

Removing the GIF Camera

Sometimes it's good to remove features, especially if they're going unused, taking too much time to support, or getting in the way of implementing other features. Whatever the reason, it looks like the GIF Camera feature won't be around much longer.

Officially launched about eleven months ago, the GIF Camera (a.k.a. "Make A GIF") could be used to quickly build an animated image straight from the camera and send it directly to the current app so it could be used in an IM, stored in a note, or whatever else might have suited the moment.

A stack of new lines leave zero doubt that, "the GIF Camera feature will go away soon." Any custom GIFs you've made can be saved to your gallery, so you won't have to lose any of your recent works.

<string name="makeagif_dep_banner">The GIF Camera feature will go away soon.</string>
<string name="makeagif_dep_general">The GIF Camera feature will go away soon.</string>
<string name="makeagif_dep_mygifs_done">The GIF Camera feature will go away soon. Any custom GIFs have been saved. Send Feedback by pressing here.</string>
<string name="makeagif_dep_mygifs_needsave">The GIF Camera feature will go away soon. Save your custom GIFs</string>
<string name="makeagif_dep_mygifs_saving">Saving your GIFs to the gallery</string>
<string name="makeagif_dep_mygifs_unused">The GIF Camera feature will go away soon. Send Feedback by pressing here.</string>

Personalization, Federated learning, and data privacy

Gboard, like many of the most popular software keyboards, applies learning algorithms to identify the words and phrases you're using often in an attempt to make better suggestions, automatic corrections, and other shortcuts. A couple new settings are going to be added that may give a little more control over the collection and use of that data.

For quite some time, there has been a setting called "Share Snippets" that would allow Gboard to report back to Google with copies of phrases you have typed, all for the purpose of improving Google's language models. With the latest update, that setting appears to be removed, but it will likely be replaced by a pair of new settings: Personalization and Federated learning.

<string name="setting_personalization_title">Personalization</string>
<string name="setting_personalization_summary">Adapt Gboard to your typing data and usage patterns.</string><string name="setting_fl_toggle_title">Federated learning</string>
<string name="setting_fl_toggle_summary">Help improve Gboard without exposing your typed words to Google. Models are sent and updated when you are charging and on Wi-Fi.</string>

The "Personalization" setting appears to completely enable or disable Gboard's collection and adaptation of your habits, an option users haven't had before. Turning it off would presumably mean Gboard will behave as a fresh install, at least in relation to automatic suggestions and corrections. It could still use the language model Google has developed, but wouldn't use your personal behaviors to make fine adjustments.

The "federated learning" option is a spiritual replacement for "share snippets." To have it enabled is to give Gboard permission to report back to Google with what it has learned from your typing practices. The summary explains that only a typing model is sent back rather than the individual words, a concept explained by Google back in 2017.

Finally, if you're among the users that want to turn off personalization and eliminate all of the old data that was stored prior to disabling the setting, that option will be available to you. A simple command in the same screen will allow you to delete any words and behavioral data that was previously stored.

<string name="setting_clear_all_data_title">Delete learned words and data</string>
<string name="setting_clear_all_data_summary">Clear all data that Gboard has learned to personalize your typing experience.</string><string name="setting_clear_data_category_title">Clear data</string>
<string name="setting_clear_data_category_key">setting_clear_data_category_key</string>

New languages

With new versions comes support for more languages. While it's hard to identify each and every one, I can at least show the list of the names added and hopefully you'll recognize one that matters to you or those in your life. Some of these languages may not be live yet, but the names are present in resources, so they're pretty obviously coming. (Sorry, some names and letters are lost as a result of software that doesn't support all alphabets, which is why they have question marks or boxes in your browser.)

Language tag

  • Bench [bcq]
  • Hadiyya [hdy]
  • Southern Min [nan]
  • Saraiki [skr]
  • Tigrinya [ti]

Localized Subtype Locale

  • Ajagbe [ajg_BJ]
  • የቤንች [bcq_XF]
  • Chibemba [bem_ZM]
  • महासू [bfz_IN]
  • Ẹdo [bin_NG]
  • Cam [cja_XA]
  • Fulfulde [fuh_NE]
  • کچی کوہلی [gjk_PK]
  • Gulay [gvl_TD]
  • ሃድያኛ [hdy_ET]
  • Igala [igl_NG]
  • Ịzọn [ijc_NG]
  • Kikongo [kng_CD]
  • കുറുഖ് [kru_XU]
  • Massa [mcn_TD]
  • मंडयाली [mjl_XT]
  • Kituba [mkw_CD]
  • Marba [mpg_TD]
  • Dorerin Naoero [na_NR]
  • Hō-ló-oē [nan_XF]
  • Papiamentu [pap]
  • Papiamento [pap_AW]
  • پشه یی [psh_AF]
  • सुरगुजा [sgj_IN]
  • Aborlan [tbw_PH]
  • Tai Nuea [tdd_CN]
  • ትግርኛ [ti_ER]
  • ককবরক [trp_XT]
  • Xitswa [tsc_MZ]
  • Emakhuwa [vmw_MZ]
  • Ненэцяʼ вада [yrk_RU]

Subtype Locale

  • Ajagbe [ajg_BJ]
  • Arabic (Mauritania) [ar_MR]
  • Arabic (Yemen) [ar_YE]
  • Bench (Latin) [bcq_ET]
  • Bench (Ge\'ez) [bcq_XF]
  • Bemba [bem_ZM]
  • Edo [bin_NG]
  • Western Cham [cja_XA]
  • Fulfulde (Niger) [fuh_NE]
  • Fulfulde (Nigeria) [fuv_NG]
  • Kachi Koli [gjk_PK]
  • Gulay [gvl_TD]
  • Hadiyya (Ge\'ez) [hdy_ET]
  • Hadiyya (Latin) [hdy_XA]
  • Igala [igl_NG]
  • Izon [ijc_NG]
  • Koongo [kng_CD]
  • Massa [mcn_TD]
  • Kituba (RC) [mkw_CD]
  • Marba [mpg_TD]
  • Southern Min (POJ) [nan_XA]
  • Southern Min (TL) [nan_XF]
  • Papiamentu (Bonaire and Curaçao) [pap]
  • Papiamento (Aruba) [pap_AW]
  • Southwestern Pashayi [psh_AF]
  • Aborlan [tbw_PH]
  • Tai Nuea [tdd_CN]
  • Tigrinya (Eritrea) [ti_ER]
  • Tigrinya (Ethiopia) [ti_ET]
  • Tswa [tsc_MZ]
  • Central Makhuwa [vmw_MZ]
  • Nenets [yrk_RU]

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