How the keyboard on your Android phone is becoming smarter
App developers are trying to take advantage of the ubiquitous nature of mobile keyboards by adding assistive tools that go beyond typing
Keyboard apps have a lot more to offer these days than customizable keys, predictive text input, colourful emojis and swipe gestures. They are growing smarter and offering features that one would associate with a smart assistant. Google with Gboard, Microsoft with SwiftKey and developers of apps such as Swalekh and Bobble have been experimenting on these lines. We take a look at the areas where the lines between a keyboard and smart assistant are getting blurred.
Translate in other languages
Language translation apps come in handy while chatting with someone in another language on WhatsApp or any other messenger. Swalekh keyboard (free on Android and iOS) allows users to transliterate any word typed in English into a regional language with simple swipe gestures on the keyboard. It supports 11 Indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Odiya, Punjabi and Assamese. Gboard (free on Android and iOS) has made chatting in a vernacular or foreign language easier by adding a translate tab in the keyboard. Users can type a word in English or any other language in the Translate tab and the meaning will show next to it. Users can tap and use it in the chats.
Share content faster
Sharing a YouTube link, location on Google Maps or an article on Chrome doesn’t require going through the customary process of switching to that app. Gboard allows users to search for an article in Google search, YouTube or a location within the keyboard, while Slash keyboard (free on Android and iOS) offers a few extras such as the option to share Tweets, audio from SoundCloud or Apple Music and articles from New York Times.
Switching between apps
Keyboard apps such as Bobble (free on Android, iOS) can help users switch from one app to another without going through the customary process of closing the app and then opening the other app. It shows icons of your most used apps right on the keyboard interface. This allows users to switch to an app they want to go to from the keyboard and then get back to the earlier app with a single tap.
Gboard comes with a feature called the Ink tool. It allows users to draw anything on the keyboard using their finger or a stylus. The drawing or text can then be sent as it is to others through social media apps. Microsoft’s SwiftKey (free on Android and iOS) uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to understand the context of an entire sentence in one go instead of focusing on words separately. This allows it to provide more accurate text predictions and auto correction options to users when they are typing.
In case users are busy or too tired to type, they can use voice commands in Gboard to type an email or message.
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