Gboard keyboard finally on Android, replacing Google Keyboard

It's rare, though not unheard of, for Google to launch a mobile app that is either an iOS exclusive or an iOS first. Especially for something as utilitarian as a virtual keyboard. Alas, that is exactly the case for Gboard, which launched last May exclusively for iOS. That is, until today. Google has finally, semi-officially made its new software keyboard available for Android, and it is doing one better. It is replacing its own Google Keyboard, which, depending on how you liked the idea of Gboard in the first place, may or may not be a good thing.

Gboard is basically Google Search meets Google Keyboard, which, as that implies, allows you to search directly from within the keyboard. It's an alien concept, admittedly, but it's one of Google's cunning ways to keep you hooked onto its services, particularly search, without having to actually jump into the search app. Of course, given the constrained screen space the keyboard takes up, it's not exactly conducive for more in-depth queries.

Gboard also has other capabilities somewhat related to search. For example, it lets you search emojis, in case you don't know if one actually exists are can't be bothered to browse through dozens of pictographs. But more importantly, the keyboard lets you also search for animated GIFs to spruce up your conversations. This feature, however, is only available inside apps that support displaying GIFs, usually most chat apps.

It isn't unusual for Google to have multiple apps doing the same thing (like chat apps ...) so it's quite unusual that Google seems to have decided that Gboard will replace Google Keyboard entirely. The update isn't out yet, though you can manually install it from the APK link below, but when it does, it will overwrite Google Keyboard. In fact, if you install it manually, you will be warned that it will replace an existing app. Provided you already have Google Keyboard installed, of course.

Download: Gboard (APK)