Google is reportedly working on a third-party keyboard for iOS which is said to have built-in search functionality. While Google has declined to comment, Casey Newton of The Verge has received the information from “people familiar with the matter.”
The keyboard has been in development for a number of months and has been in circulation among Google employees. However, there is no set date on when it will be released to the public, if ever. In addition to incorporating Google search, the keyboard will feature gesture-based typing, as well as an option to send messages using pictures and GIFs.
The additional features of Google’s iOS keyboard are what separate it from its Android counterpart, which does not have the ability to conduct searches or send images using the keyboard. The added search functionality to the iOS keyboard may be an effort to boost mobile searches, which are currently lagging way behind desktop searches according to this study.
With an app being available for virtually everything, there are fewer reasons for mobile users to type what they need into a Google search bar. Couple that with Siri running on Bing search, along with the ability to change the default search engine in Safari, and you start to see the warning signs piling up.
Fewer searches means fewer ad views, which are Google’s bread and butter. The Google keyboard could be a way for the company to regain some of its mobile search volume and ad dollars, but whether it will ever see the light of day is anyone’s guess at this point.