Google is reportedly developing a third-party keyboard for iPhones as part of wider plans to boost search volumes on mobile. The new peripheral will use predictive text and employ gesture- and swiping-based typing to make it easier for mobile users to use the tech giant’s search engine on iOS.
The reports claim that the product has already been in development for several months and is currently being tested among employees. To distinguish it from the stock keyboard on Apple’s mobile devices, Google will incorporate a range of features; the gesture-based typing will enable users to slide a finger between letters and there will also be separate buttons for GIF and picture searches.
Google’s aim is to integrate the new keyboard with key aspects of the iPhone and iPad interfaces so that users are more likely to make searches. Google’s focus on mobile has grown during the last 12 months following updates to its search engine that make it more mobile-friendly. The company also stated last year that more searches in the US are now made on mobile compared to PC.
In addition, mobile is now central to the majority of marketing strategies, as research from eMarketer showed that more than 50 per cent of all clicks on paid search ads in the Asia-Pacific and the Americas came from tablets and smartphones during the third quarter of last year.
Therefore, it seems inevitable that Google will eventually launch a branded keyboard on iOS in the near future, though the tech giant has not yet confirmed its existence. The reports have stated that it will look entirely different from the standard Android keyboard, which features voice search but no searching based on text or images. Users will also be able to tap the Google logo to access a traditional web search.
Apple first introduced support for third-party keyboards with the launch of iOS 8 in 2014, a move that resulted in a wave of new options on the App store. In contrast, Android users have long been able to choose from a huge selection of alternative keyboards if they don’t like the stock offering.