According to a recently spotted toggle
Google's recently stressing its renewed interest in tablets, between Android 12L and new developer tools that should make targeting big-screen devices easier. Some of these benefits apply to foldables, too, but Google hasn't set the best example in its own software, like the fact that Gboard is a mediocre experience on both tablets and foldables, with layouts that don't work very well on a bigger display. But according to a change spotted in a recent Gboard beta, a split layout is coming.
Gboard's split layout saga dates back to Android 6 Marshmallow when a split layout for the stock keyboard (which evolved into the Gboard of today) was first spotted in development. The feature never actually rolled out, however.ANDROIDPOLICE VIDEO OF THE DAY
As the intervening years ticked by and Android tablets were essentially ignored by both Google and developers, the loss of the feature didn't matter much. But the rise of foldables and Google's renewed focus on big-screen form factors have changed things. As a personal fan of folding phones and a straight-up hater of Samsung's mediocre software keyboard, the lack of a split layout on Gboard has been a personal pain point now for years.
Android Police's Zachary Kew-Denniss spotted a new toggle on a recent Gboard beta (v 11.5.05.427194903) in the Layout section of Gboard's preferences that states, "Split layout to include duplicated keys," and "When the keyboard is set to split layout, some keys will be duplicated on both sides."
Although a split layout isn't actually present on his device (a Galaxy Z Fold3), even with the toggle enabled, the terms in the new toggle make it clear that a split layout is coming to Gboard, and that it will also duplicate keys on both sides of the split when it is enabled — presumably, keys near the middle of the layout that one might hit with either thumb. The options for one-handed mode are also gone, which could indicate one-handed mode might be limited to smaller-screen devices if and when the feature lands. One-handed mode still appears in settings on the Z Fold3's cover display, in this instance, strengthening that possibility.
Kew-Dennis also notes that his current layout in Gboard is partly broken. For one, he has the new Material You layout, recently spotted on other non-Pixels. For another, the size of the layout is smaller than it should be, even when cranked to the maximum height, seemingly using the phone-sized layout at all times, even in landscape on a bigger folding display. As a beta, this is probably to be expected, but buggy details like this further indicate that layout work is under active development.Six Vanced features we wish YouTube would make available for everyone Read NextShareTweetShareEmail Related TopicsAbout The AuthorRyne Hager(2960 Articles Published)
Ostensibly a senior editor, in reality just some verbose dude who digs on tech, loves Android, and hates anticompetitive practices. His only regret is that he didn't buy a Nokia N9 in 2012. Email tips or corrections to ryne at androidpolice dot com.