Gboard is a good product released on Android in Dec, 2016 (released to iOS in May, 2016). I’m temped to start off with some of the problems it has because it kind of screwed me today and it’s fresh in my mind; however, It has a lot of really well thought out features and I think those would be better to start with. This review is just because I felt like sharing… I am not being compensated for my opinions. If you have anything to add, please enter it into the comments below.
Gboard has several features I find to be very useful. Writing is just as easy as Swipe and other glide-type keyboards. You just drag across the letters. Also, dragging left and right across the space bar is like the left/right arrow keys on a desktop keyboard. You can move your cursor along the lines of text to put it anywhere, a task that can sometimes be awkward on tiny touch screens.
I love Google searches on the Gboard. You can find information while you’re within whatever text editor or messaging app you use which then allows you to insert info directly into apps that support it like Hangouts, for example. Just search in Gboard and click share and Gboard adds the info into your app.
You can also search maps right there in your messaging app and insert geo-locations into messages which recipients can click on to bring up that location in their map app. Maybe share with your friends and family what locations you are visiting on vacation. Or, maybe text where you would like to meet your friends for lunch or dinner.
Gboard also has emoji search and animated GIF search abilities which allow you to insert them directly into apps that support it like Hangouts, for example.
Gboard also has many customization options including multiple skins and themes to choose from. The image below is actually from the Gboard Beta version so it looks a little different, but the non-beta also has themes as well. I just got the Gboard Beta today, right before I posted this review (damn!)… I plan on doing a review about the beta version when I have had more time to explore it.
But now I have a couple of issues… Autocorrect — something that makes many people cringe. I never had much to complain about with my Samsung which came with the Swipe keyboard by default. It worked so well that I often didn’t understand what people were complaining about with the autocorrect problems. It was not always correct but most importantly I had the option to go back and spell whatever I wanted even if it was technically wrong such as brand names which are often words intentionally spelled ‘wrong’ because it’s their trademark. In Gboard, even when I am trying to use a trademark that is technically an incorrectly spelled word Gboard stubbornly tries to correct it even if I go back and retype that trademark name. Like ‘Flickr’ for instance, it kept trying to correct it to flicker. I don’t know if they fixed this or Gboard is learning — it lets me type it now but for the longest time it wouldn’t let me type Flickr.
People make fun of autocorrect on both iOS and Android. You end up typing ridiculous stuff. Some examples are real and some have been exaggerated as the autocorrect meme but Gboard is sometimes as bad as that.
Sometimes what I typed is displayed correctly and as soon as I hit a space, type punctuation, or move on to another word – poof… it now says something else. The word that was in there before sometimes isn’t even misspelled… Gboard just decided that wasn’t the word I wanted there. If you are writing any faster than you can read, you might miss it. I now have to get in the habit of proofing every email or text I send. Obviously, proofreading is a good thing but If I have to do it to protect me from autocorrect then why should it even be there.
A worse problem is accidental deletion of lines of text. I just deleted a whole line of text in Google Keep just by clicking on the text. I was trying to select the line of text so I could copy and as soon as I clicked the line of text, the rows of text on the screen jumped up as Gboard slid up into view and grabbed focus on center part of the viewport and then Gboard replaced it with what it thought should be there. No warning or options, Now that information which I needed to paste elsewhere is gone. The Google Keep app for mobile devices has no undo. That is another complaint for another Google product, so I won’t go into that here. Anyway, that info is gone and I have to see if I can find that info again.
As frustrated as I am by these things, I still find myself liking Gboard. It’s a great product, even though I am a little mad for the Google Keep incident, the great features outweigh these problems. I highly recommend it although I do think Google needs to work on it some more. Thumbs-up Google!
As I mentioned in one part of the article above, I just got the new beta of Gboard today the day after I posted the review. It is very possible that many of my complaints have been addressed. The Autocorrect problem seems better just in the hour or so I have been playing with this. I will post a more complete review if enough has changed with the beta.