Gboard’s Split Keyboard Beta: Comfortable to type on Foldable Mobiles

Google’s Gboard keyboard app for Android is tossing a bone to people who use foldable phones with a split keyboard mode.

It strives to make it less discomfiting and a little more ergonomic to type on the large, expanded screens of the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 or Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

The split keyboard mode crops the keyboard in half, setting all the keys near the two edges of the foldable phone, much nearer to where your thumbs may inherently rest while you hold the device. And while Samsung’s keyboard app already delivers this feature to Z Fold phones, some Android users choose Gboard’s typing experience and auto-correct implementation.

Android Central was first to choose up on the r/GalaxyFold subreddit locating the feature’s quiet inclusion. If you want to try this out, enroll in the beta by visiting the app’s page on your device’s Google Play Store. This feature will arrive with the beta version 11.9.04. Unfortunately, if you aren’t noticing it in your app, you may have to stay for Google to flip a server-side switch before you can access it.

You’ll know you have it when the toolbar above your foldable’s on-screen keyboard shows a split keyboard icon. Pressing it will split the keyboard, and that icon will be replaced by an icon that can pull the two halves of the keyboard back together.

You can see two photos of the split keyboard on foldable phones above. One from a Galaxy Z Fold 3 and one from the Surface Duo 2, a device is, despite arriving with a thud in late 2021, has improved enough to be much more convincing in 2022. And now, it’s easier than ever to type on.

Gboard is a virtual keyboard app conceived by Google for Android and iOS devices. It was foremost unleashed on iOS in May 2016, pursued by a release on Android in December 2016, debuting as an essential update to the already-known Google Keyboard app on Android.

Gboard characteristics Google Search, including web results and predictive keys, comfortable searching and sharing of GIF and emoji content, a predictive typing engine offering the next word depending on the context, and multilingual language support. In addition, updates to the keyboard have enabled extra functionality, including GIF suggestions, choices for a dark color theme or adding a personal photo as the keyboard background, support for voice dictation, next-phrase forecast, and hand-drawn emoji praise.

At the time of its liftoff on iOS, the keyboard only offered support for the English language, with more languages slowly added in the following months. In contrast, on Android, the keyboard supported more than 100 languages at the release time.

In August 2018, Gboard gave 1 billion installs on the Google Play Store, making it one of the most popular Android apps. It is measured by the Google Play Store and includes downloads by users as well as pre-installed instances of the app.

Gboard is a virtual keyboard app. It features Google Search, including web results and predictive answers, comfortable searching and sharing of GIF and emoji content, predictive typing engine delivering the next word relying on context.

Unfortunately, Gboard only supported the English vocabulary, while it supported “more than 100 languages” at the time of its takeoff on the Android platform at its May 2016 launch on iOS. Google says Gboard will add more languages “over the coming months.” 916 languages are supported as of October 2019.

Gboard features a Floating Keyboard and Google Translate in Gboard itself. In addition, Gboard supports one-handed mode on Android after its May 2016 update. This functionality was counted to the app when branded as Google Keyboard. Gboard supports various keyboard layouts, including QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, Dvorak, and Colemak.

An update for the iOS app unleashed in August 2016 added Italian, Portuguese, French, German, and Spanish. In addition, it offered “smart GIF suggestions,” where the keyboard will suggest GIFs relevant to written text. The keyboard also provides new options for a dark theme or adding a personal image from the camera roll as the keyboard’s background. Another recent update in March 2018 added Croatian, Finnish, Greek, Polish, Romanian, Balochi, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Catalan, Hungarian, Latin American Spanish, Malay, Russian, and Turkish languages, along with support for voice dictation. In addition, it enables users to “long press the mic button on the space bar and talk.” Finally, in April 2017, Google significantly increased the number of Indian languages supported on Gboard, adding 11 new languages, obtaining the total number of supported Indian languages to 22.

The Android app was updated to support the recognition of hand-drawn emojis and the ability to forecast whole phrases rather than single words. The functionality is anticipated to come to the iOS app later. In addition, offline voice recognition was added in March 2019.

“Emoji Kitchen” was presented that lets users mash up different emojis and employ them as stickers when messaging on 12 February 2020, a new feature. In addition, grammar correction was introduced in October 2021, first on the Pixel 6 series.