Google Keyboard updated to match KitKat style, but is oddly different on tablets

November 7, 2013
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Google has updated their keyboard app, bringing it closer to KitKat in regard to aesthetics. Gone is the trailing blue line, and in comes the grey we’ve seen in KitKat builds. The update also brings a really neat addition to swipe-to-type, potentially making long messages really quick and easy.


The update gives users the ability to continue swiping through spaces with what Google is calling “space aware gesture typing”. So swiping out “Android Community is my favorite website” doesn’t have to be interrupted with lifting your finger. By simply swiping over the space bar, the keyboard picks up what you’re trying to say.

Oddly enough, the keyboard is different on the phone and tablet. The Nexus 5 (and Nexus 4) shows a keyboard with the ability to long-press for apostrophes and such, while the update for the Nexus 7 2013 we have doesn’t have that option. The swiping feature is present, as is the grey trailing line, but the layout has changed. In the image below, the Nexus 5 keyboard is on the bottom, with the Nexus 7 keyboard on the top. As you can see, different layouts, and different functionality. That’s a bit frustrating for those who want a unified approach across devices.

Keyboards, Update vs. KitKat

We will caution that, if you’re a quick swipist (not typist), the trailing grey line could end up making a mess of your screen. Without having to lift up for spacing, the line ends up looking like a Jackson Pollock on your keyboard. Overall the fix is smooth, and having the emoticons handy (for supporting devices) is great, but the different layouts and functionality bother us a bit.


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  • SwiftKey is King Again

    It’s okay for a freebie, but now I have to give the crown back to latest version of SwiftKey (I was previously using another out of preference).

  • digi_owl

    Nice to see the tablet keyboard getting long press numbers on the top letter row. Was a long time coming.

    • clovervidia

      Didn’t the tablet keyboard get long press numbers a while ago?

      • digi_owl

        Dunno, i don’t recall seeing it on the Google keyboard until now.

  • michael

    Is there anyway to go back to the previous version? I liked it sooo much better! I liked having the emoticons right there when I wanted them!?

  • Fergal Doyle

    The comma is moved the other side of the space bar! Thanks for the update I didn’t ask for Google.

  • digi_owl

    Huh, go figure. Could be that i somehow missed that update. Just today i noticed that Google Keyboard do not show in my apps list for some reason. I have to search for it in Play before i get the option to update. And it does not show alongside the other Google apps…

    • clovervidia

      You’re right, it doesn’t show up in the App Menu or anywhere else. That’s odd.

      Also, even though I downgraded and sideloaded 1.1, it’s still asking me to install the update for 2.0. This is some shenanigans.

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