Gboard is the default keyboard on many of the best Android phones. Google has been working on redesigning the shortcut toolbar in its popular keyboard for a while now, and things are just about ready for prime time, as the redesign is now beginning to roll out to beta testers.
Before this update, you had to tap a three-dot menu icon near the top-right corner of the keyboard to customize the buttons that appeared in Gboard’s quick-access toolbar. This option has been moved to the left edge of the menu bar and replaced with a button showing four squares with rounded corners.
All shortcuts in the toolbar are now placed in key-shaped buttons. You can now have up to six shortcuts appear as the circular chevron button at the far left has been replaced by a 2×2 grid icon shows/hides the full shortcuts panel, instead of just the strip.
As part of this, the ellipsis/overflow has been removed, thus freeing up a spot in the strip, while you can place any shortcut in the microphone slot. As such, you go from four user-customizable slots to a total of six.
However, you don’t have to fill all the spaces up now and can have just one shortcut appear in the toolbar, which is the biggest customization upgrade.
It’s also easier to customize Gboard shortcuts as you can “hold and drag” everything into your desired position, while there are two new shortcuts: Emoji and Language Switcher. The latter is useful if you want a cleaner space key row.
Visually, the new containers aren’t the most elegant and come off as boxy compared to the previous icon-on-background approach. However, the customization options are the real upgrade of this Gboard toolbar redesign.
Google has also rebranded Gboard’s “Advanced” menu to “Privacy.” “Show app icon” has been moved to “Preferences” as part of this consolidation, while “Personalization” is now “Personalize for you.” There’s also “Improve for everyone,” with both featuring more friendly, user-facing explanations. Other options you’ll find here are “Delete learned words and data” and “Audio donations.”
This redesign appeared on a handful of our Android devices running the latest Gboard beta (12.6) overnight. However, it’s not yet widely rolled out.