Last week we told you about some minor improvements coming to Gboard by way of the most recent beta: easier language translation and a better theme picker. Well, Google's not really to roll it out to the masses just yet. The latest beta of Gboard 6.1 adds some really welcome improvements to the way voice typing works and makes looking for a GIF easier.
In the current Gboard, when you tap the little microphone icon to input text via voice, the whole keyboard disappears and turns into a pause button. In the 6.1 beta, it now just lights up the microphone icon, and leaves all your regular keys there. It's a much simpler experience when you mix voice and keyboard typing.
Google has similarly streamlined GIF searching. The built-in GIF search is one of Gboard's best features, and it's now supported by and increasing number of messaging apps. But to get to it, you have to hit the emoji button at the bottom, then the GIF button. It's just buried too deep.
In Gboard 6.1, there is now a GIF search item on the word suggestion bar. Type a word and you're one tap away from a related GIF search. For those that use GIFs a lot, like I do, it's a faster and more straightforward way to get what you're after.
Finally, one final minor tweak: When you begin a search by tapping the G icon in the upper left, you're shown that day's Google Doodle, if there is one.
The best gets better: There are plenty of great keyboards on Android, but Google's own Gboard is top of the heap. It has the best combination of speed, features, and design. These are the sorts of tweaks necessary to stay on top, because Swiftkey and and others never stop innovating. Gboard is in public beta, which you can attempt to join here, though it usually says the beta is full. If you're brave and careful, you can sideload the APK from APKMirror.