Google is reportedly developing its own third-party keyboard app for iOS, according to a report from The Verge. The Apple rival is said to have been working on the application for months, and while the report details several of the keyboard’s features, it's unclear if or when Google plans to release it.
While Google’s iOS keyboard is said to be “visually distinct” from the Android version, it will still support gesture typing - unlike the stock iOS keyboard - meaning you can slide your finger from letter to letter and let Google guess your intended word.
One of the reasons why the company has designed this app is to boost the number of Google searches on iOS. The keyboard features a Google icon which users can tap on to quickly access a traditional web search, as well as buttons for picture and GIF searches, which are both powered by Google image search.
Apple added support for third-party keyboards with the launch of iOS 8; this resulted in Android keyboard makers such as Swiftkey and Swype releasing iOS versions of their apps, which, like Google’s offering, use gesture typing.
The report notes that mobile search is proving much less lucrative for Google than the desktop, partly because a lot of popular desktop searches, such as “Facebook” and “Gmail,” are unnecessary on the mobile platform, as users can access these programs via apps. Search is where Google shows its most expensive ads, which is why the company is always looking for ways to get more people using the feature.
Despite being available for almost two years, a lot of iOS users seem to prefer Apple’s default keyboard to a third-party option. But if Google’s keyboard matches the quality of some of its other iOS apps, such as Google Maps, then it could appeal to even the biggest Apple fans.