Gboard for Android levels up, can now recognize hand-drawn emoji

Gboard for Android has been updated, offering a slew of new features – among them, the ability to recognize hand-drawn emoji.

Gboard has long stood as one of our favourite third-party keyboards, not least for its search smarts – and now the Google-made keyboard has levelled up with some new abilities.
Among them is – yes – the peculiar addition of recognising hand-drawn emoji; so rather than simply search for the character one might want to insert, users can now draw out what they wish to use.
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The feature has been created as a result of Google’s experiments with AutoDraw and QuickDraw, and leverages the power of machine learning to recognise linear patterns. The keyboard will adjust its suggestions based on the shapes it recognises – a contextual example being the input of a cat below:
Another meaningful update is the presence of prescriptive predictions; Gboard is now able to predict what a user might wish to write next. Rather than merely suggesting a single word as the next step, the keyboard can now prescribe commonly used phrases to quickly complete sentences.
board emoji drawing hand written emoji
Lastly, Gboard now offers improved web search capabilities, and will depict more results with rich card offerings; for example, the keyboard will let users switch to Google Maps directly to better peruse a search listing.
Gboard now supports over 200 languages, and the updates which enable hand-drawn emoji recognition and richer search and suggestion features are presently rolling out for Android – an iOS update will likely follow soon.
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What are your thoughts? What keyboard do you use in your day-to-day on either iOS or Android? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA