Google Gboard has come of age—and we are not just talking about its features. The keyboard app has now attained a global acceptance such that it now supports over 500 languages—and now that is huge.
While English, French, Spanish and the likes dominate the global scene in terms of the number of people who speak those languages, being able to communicate in local dialect brings so much comfort and fun. The Gboard approach is simple—get as many people as possible to communicate in their preferred dialect.
So, in addition to existing languages, Gboard has added the Nigerian Pidgin spoken by 30 million people, Rangpuri spoken by 15 million people, Balinese spoken by 3 million people, Pontic Greek spoken by 800,000 people and many more.
“Today, Gboard offers more than 500 language varieties on Android, bringing a smart, AI-driven typing experience to many more people around the world. This means that more than 90% of the world can now type in their first language with Gboard, with keyboard layouts tailored to each language and typing smarts like autocorrect and predictive text,” Daan van Esch Technical Program Manager, Gboard said in a blog post.
Esch gave an insight into how difficult and prolonged it is to add a new language to Gboard. The process, according to his blog post, requires designing of an entirely new keyboard layout, then followed by crafting of a new machine learning language model to autocorrect typing and predict next words. It then follows through the process of finding datasets to train those models.
Except for the English language, which is quite easy because it only has about 30 characters and large amounts of written materials widely available, the processes for other languages are more difficult.
Following the difficulties in processing other languages, Google had to share writing prompts with native speakers who helped to make them from the beginning. Gboard’s engineers then had the task of figuring out which characters to add in the layouts as well as to determine the frequency of their use.
“Depending on the language, we may tailor aspects of the layout, like the set of digits—for example, while English uses 0123456789, Hindi and other Indian languages written in Devanagari use ०१२३४५६७८९. Once we’ve built support for a language, we always invite a group of native speakers to test and fill out a survey to understand their typing experience.”
To see if your local language was part of the new set released by Google, visit the Help Center to find out more.
In other Gboard news, the keyboard app can now suggest relevant emoji and stickers to use when typing on your device.
This new feature is powered by Google’s popular artificial intelligence. With this functionality, Gboard will suggest different emojis and stickers that it feels will match that important occasion—birthday, wedding anniversary any many more. As you already know, Gboard boasts of a rich reservoir of stickers and emojis in its library, which makes it the perfect app to help you send the right pictures when words are barely enough.