Google’s Gboard introduces split keyboard for large screen devices

The big screen estate that comes with foldable devices is a double-edged sword, as it makes the regular keyboard quite tricky to use comfortably as you would on a standard size display.

Google seems to have taken notice of this, and they have rolled out an update that introduces a new split keyboard on the Gboard app. The update is aimed at making typing on big extended screens like that of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 more comfortable and ergonomic. The update is not restricted to Samsung devices, as it also works with the Microsoft Surface Duo 2.

The new feature makes the keyboard divide in half, pushing all the keys closer to the sides of the foldable phone, where your thumbs naturally rest when holding a big device.

It is important to note that the Z Fold devices had this kind of functionality inbuilt with Samsung’s keyboard software, but it is still a welcome addition as there are users who prefer Gboard’s typing interface and autocorrect features.

In order to try it on your foldable device, you first need to head over to the Play Store on your smartphone and then sign up for the beta. Google notes that beta version 11.9.04 will include the update, however, you might still need to wait for a short period before the tech giant turns on a server-side switch before you can see it on your app.

You will know you are ready to go when a split keyboard icon appears in the toolbar above your foldable’s on-screen keyboard. By touching this icon, the Gboard will split in half, and a symbol that can bring the two halves back together will take its place.

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At the time of writing, it is not clear whether the update will make its way to other large-screen devices like tablets. However, extending the functionalities to more devices would make for a more natural progression, rather than restricting the feature to one particular type of device.

After all, there are third-party keyboards in the Play Store that already offer the spilt keyboard. Even the iPad has had the functionality for years at this point. We will give you a heads-up when Google rolls the update to other devices, which might be as soon as the beta period ends.

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly

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