Gboard can now understand your mumbling much better than before

Gboard on the Pixel 2XL.

If you’ve found Google’s Gboard voice dictation frustrating to use, we have good news — Google has just updated Gboard with AI-powered offline dictation that should be a big improvement from before.

As Google details in its blog post, the voice dictation improvements were made possible with accuracy improvements through deep learning. The “prime focus” of several architectures was to reduce the amount of time it takes for your speech to be transcribed.

The result is an end-to-end, all-neural speech recognizer that lives in Gboard and on your device. The good news is that the speech recognizer doesn’t need an internet connection to work and is 80MB in size. That’s compared to past models that were 2GB in size and later went down to 450MB.

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Even better, the new speech recognizer outputs character-by-character instead of word-by-word as you speak. That’s made possible through “a feedback loop that feeds symbols predicted by the model back into it to predict the next symbols.”

Putting all of this together, Gboard’s voice dictation feature should work more reliably, more quickly, and more accurately than before.

Gboard’s upgraded speech recognizer is rolling out now to Pixel smartphones and is limited to American English dictation. You can enable it if you go to Gboard settings > Voice typing > Faster voice typing. We could see Gboard’s upgraded speech recognizer in additional languages and devices in the near future.

Gboard’s new floating keyboard is a blessing for multitasking

Gboard floating keyboard

  • The latest Gboard update sees the addition of a floating keyboard feature.
  • This can be useful when multitasking or typing with one hand.
  • Gboard isn’t the first keyboard to get this feature.

Google has introduced a floating keyboard to Gboard and it makes multitasking significantly more convenient. Google added the feature to Gboard version 7.6 and it went live on October 19, according to 9to5 Google.

You can find the new feature by tapping on Gboard’s Google icon and then tapping the overflow menu. From here, you can turn the floating keyboard on and off or, if you think you will use it a lot, add it to Gboard’s easy access bar.

Once the floating keyboard is enabled, you can drag it around your screen and resize it as you see fit. Exiting the mode is achieved in exactly the same way as turning it on.

Multitasking without Gboard floating keyboard
Multitasking with Gboard floating keyboard

This is particularly useful for split-screen multitasking. Before the update, when you had two windows open and wanted to type something, the keyboard would show up in its usual place at the bottom of the screen. This would either cover up most of the bottom window or — as in the picture above — push the bottom window into the top window.

Both scenarios could be pretty annoying if you wanted to copy some information from one window into another. For example, when typing bank details into a payments app. The new floating keyboard means you can instead position the keyboard as you see fit, ensuring you can see the important info.

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As well as multitasking, the floating keyboard could make one-handed typing much easier as you can make the keyboard smaller and position it in a way that is comfortable for you.

Gboard isn’t the first keyboard to implement a floating feature. SwiftKey has offered the feature for years now. However, the Gboard addition is likely to be welcomed by users who want to use the floating feature without having to switch keyboards.

Next up: 10 best Android keyboards