Google Gboard or Microsoft Word Flow: Which iOS Keyboard to Select

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-05-13
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Google Gboard or Microsoft Word Flow: Which iOS Keyboard to Select
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    Google Gboard or Microsoft Word Flow: Which iOS Keyboard to Select

    We examine the similarities and differences between Google Gboard and Microsoft Word Flow—two keyboards for iOS devices.
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    How Important Is Google Search Integration?
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    How Important Is Google Search Integration?

    For many users, deciding which keyboard to download will depend on how important Google Search integration is. Microsoft's Word Flow is a keyboard with no ability to search the Internet. Gboard, however, comes with a Google icon that, when tapped, allows users to search the Internet for anything. Results are then displayed and can be shared with text message recipients. If that's an appealing feature for certain users, Gboard is the way to go.
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    It's All About One-Handed Typing With Word Flow
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    It's All About One-Handed Typing With Word Flow

    Arguably, the key ingredient in Microsoft's Word Flow is its support for one-handed typing. Users need only tap an icon to enter "arc mode" inside the keyboard. From there, the keyboard moves to the bottom corner of the screen and allows users to type out a message with a single finger. Google's Gboard, on the other hand, is a traditional, full-screen keyboard.
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    A Quick Way to Find, Share Emojis
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    A Quick Way to Find, Share Emojis

    In addition to being able to search the Internet, Gboard includes a feature that lets users search for emojis. So, if a user types "smiling," for instance, the keyboard will automatically display smiling emojis. It's an easy way to find those hard-to-find, but oh-so-desirable emojis.
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    You Can Glide or Swipe to Input Text
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    You Can Glide or Swipe to Input Text

    One of the more popular features to come to third-party keyboards is glide typing, or the ability to slide a finger around to different keys to input words. Google's Gboard supports the feature and automatically interprets what the person is trying to say based on the keys over which they slide their fingers. Similarly, Microsoft's Word Flow also includes a "swiping" feature for text input.
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    The Choice Is More Limited for iPad Users
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    The Choice Is More Limited for iPad Users

    For some users, the question of which app to download might come down to platform support. Microsoft's Word Flow keyboard is optimized only for the iPhone, leaving iPad owners out of luck. Those who want iPad support, therefore, will have to go with Google's Gboard, which runs on any iOS 9 device, including the iPad.
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    Microsoft Loves Customization
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    Microsoft Loves Customization

    While Google has kept its Gboard design relatively safe and inline with what users would see in iOS, Microsoft offers several customization features with Word Flow. The app comes with free backgrounds, as well as the ability to place a picture behind images and use different colors as filters. Microsoft Word Flow has customization options at every turn.
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    Bring On the GIF Fun
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    Bring On the GIF Fun

    Google's Gboard lets users search specifically for GIFs around the Internet and incorporate them into the keyboard. So, rather than sending text, users can choose the "GIF" option and find one they'd like to share while texting others.
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    Microsoft Touts Its Intelligence
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    Microsoft Touts Its Intelligence

    Microsoft Word Flow analyzes what's being typed and provides relevant recommendations based on that. Although that's available in most keyboard apps, Microsoft adds that its app is capable of learning over time what words users are employing—and how—to refine its suggestions. The app even asks users for access to their Contacts, so it can predict more quickly the names that might be used in texts.
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    Google Touts Its Privacy
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    Google Touts Its Privacy

    Google, meanwhile, likes to tout the privacy features it's built into Gboard. In its App Store posting, Google says that it's designed the app to "keep your private information private." The company outlines what it sends to Google's servers, like a search query and anonymous diagnostics information. Google says it doesn't collect anything else through Gboard, and none of the aforementioned data it collects is accessible by the company or any other apps.
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    You Won't Need to Pay a Dime
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    You Won't Need to Pay a Dime

    Google and Microsoft have (intelligently) decided to offer their apps for free. Better yet, there are no in-app purchases that unlock some of the previously mentioned features. Both apps, in other words, deliver everything users might want at no charge.
 

Two of Apple's top competitors—Google and Microsoft—want a prominent place on iOS mobile devices. Just weeks after Microsoft announced the launch of its Word Flow iPhone keyboard, Google on May 12 launched its own alternative keyboard for iOS devices called Gboard. Google's keyboard app includes a standard typing interface, but adds several important features, including GIF support and a wide range of emojis. Perhaps the most important new feature is its ability to search Google from within the keyboard. The app is the latest in a string of third-party alternatives to the keyboard built into iOS, and like Microsoft's alternative, might be one of the more attractive options. So many iOS device users who want to opt for an alternative keyboard will soon decide whether they should opt for Word Flow or go with Google's latest launch. We examine the similarities and differences between the two keyboards to help users select which option to download. Read on to find out more about the keyboards trying to improve on the iPhone keyboard experience.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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