The latest beta of Google’s Android keyboard is rolling out this afternoon with a handful of changes in development. Gboard 8.8 most notably details how the emoji handwriting feature is going away.

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Deprecating ’emoji handwriting feature’

Gboard 8.8 reveals that Google is planning to remove the “emoji handwriting feature” that allows you to search for characters by drawing them. It’s currently accessed by heading to the emoji tab, tapping on the search field, and hitting the drawn face icon in the upper-right corner. This prompt detailing the deprecation is not live in the app today.

<string name=”emoji_handwriting_deprecation_notice_content_description”>Notice of emoji handwriting keyboard deprecation</string>

<string name=”emoji_handwriting_deprecation_notice_label”>The emoji handwriting feature will be removed soon</string>

Emoji shortcut

Tapping on the ‘G’ icon in the top-left corner reveals a row of customizable shortcuts for Settings, Clipboard, Translate, and other functionality. Gboard 8.8 hints that the Emoji tab will soon be linked here for quick access.

<string name=”id_access_point_smiley”>smiley</string>

<string name=”label_access_point_emoji”>Emoji</string>

Faster voice typing for English (Indian)?

Gboard 8.8 features a promo for voice typing in English (India). Since that keyboard already has verbal entry, this is presumably for what Google calls “Faster voice typing” where the keyboard downloads a roughly 85MB model that works offline. It’s currently only available in US English.

<string name=”voice_promo_input_method_entries_whitelist”>en-IN</string>

<string name=”voice_typing_notice”>Type using your voice. Try it now.</string>

<string name=”voice_banner_description”>a promo to let users know that voice dictation is now available for them.</string>

<string name=”voice_typing_banner”>How are you?</string>

<string name=”romanized_indic_voice_typing_banner”>Kya haal hai?</string>

Voice data privacy

This release sees Gboard update a handful of strings related to federated learning, privacy, and clearing data. In addition to text, they now account for voice and other spoken input.

Gboard 8.7

<string name=”setting_personalization_summary”>Adapt Gboard to your typing data and usage patterns</string>

<string name=”setting_clear_all_data_summary”>Clear all data that Gboard has learned to improve your typing experience on this device</string>

<string name=”setting_fl_toggle_summary”>Help improve Gboard. What you type never leaves your device, and improvements are processed and aggregated only when your phone is charging and on Wi-Fi %s&lt;linkable&gt;Learn more&lt;/linkable&gt;</string>

Gboard 8.8

<string name=”setting_personalization_summary”>Adapt Gboard to your typing and voice typing data and usage patterns</string>

<string name=”setting_clear_all_data_summary”>Clear all data that Gboard has learned to improve your typing and voice typing experience on this device</string>

<string name=”setting_fl_toggle_summary”>Help improve Gboard. What you type or speak never leaves your device, and improvements are processed and aggregated only when your phone is charging and on Wi-Fi %s&lt;linkable&gt;Learn more&lt;/linkable&gt;</string>

How to update?

You can sign-up for Gboard’s beta program here or by heading to the Play Store listing on Android and scrolling to the bottom. The latest beta version of Gboard is immediately rolled out by Google when it’s available.

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