Google has updated its Android keyboard application with several new features designed to improve usability and accessibility.
The new Google Keyboard 5.0 represents a major overhaul of the application. It features changes to the keyboard user interface, layout and manner in which users can interact with it and input data using the application.
The new version also introduces gesture typing in a variety of languages including Afrikaans, Belarusian, Estonian, Icelandic, Macedonian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.
Google is just starting to roll out the update, and will complete it next week, according to a company spokeswoman. It will be available via the Google Play Store.
The Google Keyboard app already supports several capabilities that the company says are optimized for fast typing, user gestures and voice. The keyboard’s Gesture Typing feature, for instance, lets users type words by sliding their finger from letter to letter and lifting their finger to complete the word. The feature eliminates the need for users to hit the spacebar to separate words.
Similarly, the apps' Voice Typing feature lets users input text using speech. The application also supports other features commonly found in other keyboard apps like word completion suggestions, auto-correct and next-word prediction.
Keyboard 5.0 builds on these capabilities by adding several new features, according to Google. For instance, users can now move the cursor simply by sliding their finger across the space bar.
Similarly, they can define and delete entire words, instead of deleting one letter at a time, by sliding their finger left from the delete key. They can long press on suggestions to remove or forget words permanently from the suggestion bar.
Google Keyboard 5.0 also introduces support for one-handed typing mode for people with large screen devices. The keyboard gives users the option of choosing between right hand mode and a left hand mode.
Users with large-screen devices can now pin a keyboard to the right or left of the screen by long pressing on the 'Enter' key and selecting the thumb icon, according to Google.
Also new with Keyboard 5.0 are settings that allow users to get symbol hints and to add key borders. Users have the option of choosing a keyboard layout with key borders or without them based on their preferences. The symbol hints feature meanwhile gives users quick hints for accessing symbols on their keys.
Gesture typing and word suggestions are now available in a total of 23 additional languages, including multiple versions of English, French and German. Gesture typing is now available for a total of 60 different languages.
Keyboard layouts are also now available in multiple layouts including those for Arabic, Basque, Zulu and several Indian languages like Hindi, Tamil and Bengali.
Google Keyboard is just one of numerous keyboard options available on Android. Other popular apps include SwiftKey and Swype, which some handset makers pre-install on their devices.