Gboard Update Brings Handwriting Input and 20 New Languages

Google Gboard, the keyboard app that is now native on a wide range of Android phones, has a big update rolling out this morning.  The update is version 6.8 for those keeping score but given the number of improvements and changes, this really feels like a major “dot oh” release.

The headline new feature for the app is Handwriting input support.  Now you can use a stylus or your finger to write instead of typing on the QWERTY keyboard.  Previously, to use handwriting input, you had to have a separate app.  If you are wanting to have this new input method in your install of Gboard, you will need to make sure you enable it.

To enable, open up the Gboard app settings and then tap on the Languages section.  At the bottom, tap the “Add Keyboard” button then tap on English (US).  The first option you see should be a Handwriting keyboard.  Select it then tap the Add button.  This will now make it an option on the keyboard.

Now to an app where you would type and you should see a globe icon on the keyboard next to the space button.  Tap that icon and you should alternate between your normal keyboard and the handwriting panel.

Other improvements in this update to Google’s keyboard app include suggestions in URL fields, similar to that found in Chrome.  There is also Hinglish-style support for 19 more Indian languages.  Finally, there is support for an additional 20 languages in this update.  Those are:

Awadhi, Bambara, Bundeli, Emilian-Romagnol, Fulani, Gilaki, Hiligaynon, Jamaican Patois, Kumaoni, Lambadi, Lombard, Madurese, Minangkabau, Mazanderani, Nahuatl, Neapolitan, Norwegian (Nynorsk), Piedmontese, Sadri, Santali (Devanagari and Bengali), Sicilian, Sylheti, Venetian, and Zazaki
If you have Gboard installed on your phone, you should get the OTA update for this new build over the course of the next few days.  If you don’t have it installed and want to try it, the app is a free download in the Play Store.