Gboard, the keyboard Android app developed by Google, will now use artificial intelligence to recommend appropriate GIFs, stickers, and emoji. According to Google, it can sometimes be difficult and time-consuming for users to select their preferred emoji and stickers, which is where its automated suggestions come into play. To take advantage of the new feature, users have to type a short phrase with Gboard. The keyboard application determines if there is an emoji that could properly represent the said term, after which the GIF icon will appear in the top left corner of the interface. Tapping this icon will reveal a selection of emoji, stickers, and GIFs that the user can choose from. The feature is currently limited to English, although Google says it will roll out the functionality to more languages in the near future. Furthermore, Google guarantees that despite the addition of the new AI-powered feature, the privacy of the users remain protected since the application develops the AI model for the functionality on the device itself and doesn’t send needless data to the cloud.
Background: Google initially launched its Android keyboard application as Google Keyboard, although in 2016, the company rebranded the app into Gboard after updating it to version 6.0. One of the key selling points of the application is the integrated search feature which takes advantage of Google’s flagship Search service. Among the major functionalities that Google introduced to the application in recent years is the support for federated learning. This ability allows the application to develop AI models directly on its host device, rather than waiting for Google’s servers to gather data and revise the models. Aside from the improved privacy, this approach to machine learning also improves performance, Google was often quick to reiterate in the past.
Aside from substantial under-the-hood improvements, Google also recently introduced several new user-facing features to Gboard. E.g. the search giant added a clipboard manager feature which allows users to copy multiple lines of text and paste them to another Android app or document. Users can add, delete, or pin clips using this feature, and may access the functionality through the overflow menu of the Android keyboard. Google also recently introduced a feature that alerts users when the app discovers content relevant to the text that they have typed. Meanwhile, the personalized stickers feature, another functionality that Google recently added to the Gboard app, uses a combination of machine learning, neural networks, and artist illustrations to create stickers based from user photos. The Android application can create a total of 100 sticker styles, and it comes in two modes – Bold and Sweet.
Impact: Google emphasized that stickers, emoji, and GIFs are important components of online communications, suggesting the main goal of the latest Gboard addition is to help users communicate over the World Wide Web more easily. As the company’s focus on AI continues to grow, more similar functionalities driven by federated learning are likely to be introduced to Gboard moving forward. In the meantime, AI content suggestions are already live on a global level.