Tired of searching through hundreds of emojis for the perfect way to express yourself? Draw one with your finger and Google’s keyboard app will match it.
Typing isn’t just for words anymore, at least not the way Google’s Gboard app for Android now does it.
An update to the keyboard app rolling out this week will let you draw a stick figure, a smiley face, or many other subjects with your finger and then automatically match the drawing to the emoji that it most closely resembles. It’s a nifty time-saving feature that will prevent you from having to scroll through hundreds of emoji on the keyboard to find the one you want.
Emoji are a bit too informal for some people, however, so Gboard will also get autocomplete improvements that can finish your entire sentence (pictured above), not just the word you’re currently typing. In a blog post explaining the new feature, Google suggested you try typing “looking forward” to have Gboard suggest “to seeing” or “to it” as you type.
The Gboard update, version 6.3, is currently only available for Android devies. Like pretty much everything else that Google is working on these days, the update uses machine learning to match your drawings to the emoji, and although it may initially have trouble recognizing that you meant to draw a smiley face with a tongue sticking out, for instance, it will become more perceptive and accurate as more people use it.
“Gboard can still make suggestions that seem nonintuitive or of low utility and gestures can still be decoded to words a human would never pick,” Google admitted in a blog post explaining its AI efforts.
Mobile keyboard apps like Gboard are prime candidates for AI infusions that reduce the amount of actual typing you have to do because the average user is roughly 35 percent slower typing on a mobile device than on a physical keyboard, according to Google’s research.