Tool corner: Gboard for IOS

Gboard is a keyboard replacement that replaces the usual hunt and peck method of typing with swiping.  I use an iPhone so I’ll focus on the IOS version, but it’s available for Android phones too.

A world record of 26 seconds was set for typing a specific 160 character phrase on a phone using the swipe method back in 2010. This record was subsequently broken in 2014 by another person who typed the same phrase using the Fleksy keyboard in a blistering 17 seconds.

This is the phrase they had to type:

The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.

I personally haven’t tried the Fleksy keyboard, but  I switch to Gboard about 2 months ago and I haven’t switched back since due to the vast improvement in my typing speed. Here is how you set it up:

  • Install the Gboard app.
  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard…
  • It’s annoyingly easy to accidentally cycle back to the old default keyboard, so delete that (don’t worry, you can get it back). Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Edit. Then tap the red minus symbol to expose the delete option on the default one. It’s probably named as a language, like English (Australia).  
  • If Gboard isn’t showing when you go to type a message (perhaps you skipped the above step), then tap the globe icon to switch to it.
  • You can also set your keyboard theme by opening the Gboard app and heading to Themes.  I changed mine to the black theme so that I know which keyboard I’m using.  

Me writing my one priority into Evernote using the Gboard keyboard replacement app.

I have large hands, and subsequently big fingers and thumbs, and found traditional typing on a phone often involved a lot of backspacing to correct mis-hits.  

This has all changed since switching to Gboard.  I’ve found my typing speed has improved not just from being able to type in words faster, but also because it’s a method of typing that is much better suited to us larger-digit people.  

The Gboard auto-correct also figures out the word you are trying to type much faster than the standard keyboard.  Even if you miss the correct key when swiping, I found that 95% of the time it still gets it right.