Google's dedicated Android keyboard Gboard will soon allow image pasting, based on a recent breakdown of code found inside version 9.0 of the app. Discovered by 9to5Google, the change is far enough along to provide a closer look at how the feature might work and appear once it's released.
The new UI is most noticeable when viewing the Gboard clipboard itself, based on the associated images. That's apparent after loading up the keyboard in an app and then tapping the clipboard button. Alternatively, the clipboard option following a long-press can be used in-appropriate apps.
Now, rather than only showing recent text and text that's been pinned, the keyboard also shows a thumbnail preview of images.
Tapping on one of the images will insert it, just as text would be inserted.
This extends beyond the keyboard with specific app compatibility
Alterations go well beyond the keyboard itself too, with interface changes also showing up in the Chrome browser. That's almost certainly tied in with another recently reported change coming to Android. But that's one on the browser's side of the equation. Namely, Google Chrome will soon be tacking on the ability to copy images directly from the browser's context long-press menu.
That copy-paste method is currently tucked behind an experimental flag in the Canary Channel of Chrome. So it may provide some indication of the timeline in place here. In the meantime, that feature will tie into the new Gboard clipboard copy and paste features. After both are implemented, users will be able to copy an image from Chrome — or elsewhere — and add it to other apps.
The range of apps this is currently slated for isn't wide for the time being. For now, only Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Messages, and other manufacturer-specific SMS and MMS clients will work. Google will almost certainly extend this system-wide at some point but it isn't quite there yet.
When an app isn't compatible, Google intends to show the standard pop-up style warning at the lower portion of a given page. That means it will appear just above the keyboard itself. Specifically, Google will show a circled-exclamation point and a message that the app doesn't support image pasting.
…but there's no timeline yet for image pasting from Gboard
As noted above, Google has the feature in question tucked behind some strings of code on the keyboard side. On the Chrome side, Google hid it behind another change entirely. That one is browser-specific.
The changes aren't necessarily going to land at the same time. Google could feasibly introduce the keyboard tool first. But, since they seem at least partially linked, the time scale there may provide some indication of how far along the clipboard-based image pasting feature is.
New features that land in the Canary Channel are typically several iterations away on the Chrome side of things. Features for Chrome version 80 are already frozen, meaning they aren't likely to change. The same is true for Chrome 81 as of January 17. So the earliest feasible launch for the new feature might be with Chrome 82. That's slated to arrive on or around April 28.
However, that only holds true as long as Google plans on releasing the features at the same time and that could turn out not to be the case.