New machine intelligence features in Google’s Gboard keyboard will recommend an emoji based on a user’s hand-drawn sketch and will improve type speed, a Google blog post published on Monday said.

To use the new emoji recognition, users simply tap the emoji handwriting icon in the emoji search box and start drawing the emoji they’re looking for. As the user adds elements to the drawing, Gboard will recommend emoji that match the drawing. For example, in the post, as the user added pointy ears to their drawing, Gboard recognized that they were looking for a cat emoji and presented some options. The app also offers text-based searching for emoji as well.

To make full sentence typing even faster, Gboard will now suggest phrases while the user is typing to help them finish their thoughts more quickly, the post said. One example noted in the release is that if a user were to type the phrase “looking forward,” Gboard would suggest “to seeing” or “to it” as the following words, helping users more quickly answers their friends. This feature is available in English, but will eventually come to other languages, the post said.

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Improved Google Search functionality is also coming to Gboard. When searching in Gboard, Google will now provide even more results, in order to make it easier to find links to a nearby business or restaurant, or other information, the post said.

The improved Search integration will likely continue to strengthen Gboard, which was initially launched as a way to bring search capabilities to the keyboard. The app is also available on iOS devices.

Gboard also offers the popular glide or swipe typing method, as well as trackpad-esque functionality on its spacebar. The keyboard can also be customized for an individual user’s preferences.

Gboard suggestions and gesture typing are coming to Azerbaijani (Iran), Dhivehi, French (Belgium), Hawaiian, Maori, and Samoan versions of the app, the post announced. Additionally, new simple keyboards for typing and texting are coming to the Dzongkha, Ewe, Navajo, Tsonga, and K’iche’ languages as well, the post said.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Google’s Gboard keyboard is adding new features that allow users to search for an emoji by drawing it, and to use predictive phrasing for texts.
  2. Google is also improving the Search integration with Gboard, providing multiple results in an in-app search.
  3. New languages are getting suggestions and gesture typing support, while a few others are getting access to simple new typing-only keyboards.