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article imageReport: Google building a keyboard for Apple's iOS

By James Walker     Mar 23, 2016 in Technology
Google is said to be building a feature-packed third-party keyboard for the iPhone and iPad that will see it bring elements of the Android user interface to Apple's rival platform. The company wants to increase the number of searches made by iOS users.
Google is designing its iOS keyboard to emphasize the role of its search engine, according to a report from The Verge today. The keyboard uses a "variety of search options" to bringing Google's core product to the heart of Apple's mobile operating system.
The unnamed keyboard has significantly more features than the stock Apple layout preinstalled with iOS. It supports gesture typing and built-in searching for pictures and GIF animations, simplifying the process of adding media to a text input field.
"Tap the Google logo and you can access traditional web search," wrote The Verge. "It also appears to have distinct buttons for pictures and GIF searches, both presumably powered by Google image search."
No images are currently available but the design is said to be "visually distinct" from the stock Android keyboard. That implies Google is trying to create something that blends into the existing iOS interface while still emphasising the role of the search giant's own technology.
The keyboard's features would make it a marked improvement over the layout included with Android. Google's stock keyboard is comparatively basic with voice and gesture input but no built-in search options. Android already has Google integrated into its core though and users can search directly from the home-screen. The iOS keyboard would bring this ease of access to Google to iOS users.
Google is trying to find new ways to get mobile users searching. Studies have shown that few people actually use a search engine while on a smartphone, decreasing revenue for companies like Google that depend on regular streams of users from all platforms.
Google let slip last year that half of all mobile users "do zero searches per day," in part because people don't need to search for things as often. On mobile devices, navigating to services is much simpler than on a PC or laptop. You go to your app drawer and tap the service you want to use. On desktops, people are more likely to search for the service first, typing "facebook", "twitter" or "youtube" into their browser's address bar and ending up at a search result rather than the webpage directly. Google is trying to find new ways to solve this problem.
The company's new iOS keyboard is said to have been in internal testing "for months," suggesting it is heading towards the end of its development phase. For now, there is no indication when it will be publicly launched or if it will ever leave the company's development labs though, implying it may be an experiment that could be shelved.
Third-party keyboards have proved to be popular on iOS but aren't without their problems. Google may end up delaying or cancelling the unveiling if the keyboard is unable to perform well, an issue that has been experienced with some third-party keyboards.
More about Google, Keyboard, Apple, Ios, Android
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