About two years ago, around the time when Apple introduced its Memojis, Google countered with the addition of Snapchat Bitmoji in Gboard. You'd be forgiven if you've long forgotten about the custom stickers created based on images of you, but in an attempt to bring them back, Google has now added a new extra Bitmoji tab to its keyboard, even if you don't have the respective app installed.
Previously, Bitmoji were only available for installation in Gboard via the sticker tab in the emoji selector, where it's much less prominent. But now many people report that they see a dedicated Bitmoji section next to the one for stickers. Tapping it will open a banner, advertising that you can "unlock thousands of stickers — starring you!" via the "Install Bitmoji" button. Once you've installed the app and set it up, the Gboard section is populated by stickers based on you.
Left & Middle: The new Bitmoji section between emoji and stickers. Right: The old Bitmoji integration in Stickers.
While I don't mind Bitmoji tapping into Gboard to make it easier to send custom stickers, I'm not too happy with the new extra section to promote an integration that's not a native part of the app. At least the Bitmoji install prompt remains relatively well hidden away, so unless you're actively looking for it, it shouldn't bother you too much. Let's hope that future plugins and promotions remain that way.
It looks like the new Bitmoji integration is already rolling out widely, as multiple team members and tipsters report seeing it. For me, it's available on the Gboard beta 9.8 (also available through the Play Store beta program), but I don't see it on version 9.7, so it might be limited to the beta for now, though it could also be a server-side change.
- Nick & Moshe