In 2014 a few of us had been talking about future surfaces and interfaces. There’d been some conversations about text as interface and other stuff. We’d played with the idea of using the keyboard as a space to try a little hack. But nothing had bitten, so we put it away in the top drawer.
In 2015 another project we’d been working on inspired a few people to take a fresh look. They made a Spark Card (a one-page slide that summarizes an idea) for a Google powered keyboard and called it Gboard. We sketched design concepts. Made mocks and thew together a quick prototype. People were into it. So we made a shiny deck and site, put a bow on it, and gave the idea to Google.
We then paused everything to focus on creating a new brand system for Google. You can read more about that here – but it meant we were heads down and went dark for months.
During that time a team in Mountain View starting looking at making a keyboard for iOS. Google had a great keyboard for Android and wanted to make something for iPhone users. We started talking and soon a small team from Creative Lab were out on the West Coast for a design sprint.
In a few months we had builds ready for Teamfood, Fishfood, Dogfood and shortly afterwards a production build ready to ship. We got our final Apple approvals and on Thursday May 12th we flipped the switch…. Gboard was live in the AppStore.
Google announced it:
We’re feeling QWERTY. Gboard for iPhone puts Search, GIFs and more at your fingertips. https://t.co/9acdrSHmTjhttps://t.co/KwRRdwNt8O
— Google (@google) May 12, 2016
Shared the videos on YouTube:
Press starting talking about the features:
And people seem to like it:
Google just put search, GIFs, and more into a really great keyboard—for iOS https://t.co/RDCtzIfQyz
— WIRED (@WIRED) May 12, 2016
Google releases keyboard for the iPhone with built-in search features https://t.co/Yomx0OrZKW pic.twitter.com/QFw7bcmXBj
— The Verge (@verge) May 12, 2016
Thank you @google for new Gboard iOS keyboard – huge leap forward for this user! https://t.co/FhMHfPA0BA
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) May 26, 2016
How did I ever type before Gboard? #obsessed 💕 💯 🙌 cc @sundarpichai
— Katie Jacobs Stanton (@KatieS) May 20, 2016
I can’t believe how much I love Gboard.
— Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) May 16, 2016
The new GBOARD is insane! Thank you @google! I just deleted all my other keyboards. pic.twitter.com/n8OOvE02MY
— Levi Benton (@levibenton) May 15, 2016
If you haven’t done it yet, stop doing what you do and Install Google’s new iOS keyboard “Gboard” – Best thing since their Search Engine.
— Tobias van Schneider (@vanschneider) May 14, 2016
And the number of Google apps on my iPhone keeps growing: Just downloaded GBOARD pic.twitter.com/eXBeVfVk7m
— Mallory Johns (@mmsuperflyjr) May 14, 2016
Gboard team thought of all the things.
— Josh Williams (@jw) May 14, 2016
OK. Google’s swipe keyboard is amazing.
— Craig Mod (@craigmod) May 13, 2016
★ Gboard: https://t.co/16w6bRfJSt
— Daring Fireball (@daringfireball) May 13, 2016
The One Incredibly Important Gboard Keyboard Setting You Need To Turn Off Right Now! pic.twitter.com/rsxezth5yh
— mat honan (@mat) May 12, 2016
wait wat mat are u sure@mat pic.twitter.com/V1DrfRW0m9
— darth™ (@darth) May 12, 2016
The fascinating thing about the Google keyboard is that it does what many bot apps aspire to do except much better.
— sean rose (@sean_a_rose) May 12, 2016
smart, low-hanging fruit for googlehttps://t.co/7AQ4tkqz1X
— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) May 12, 2016
Some very clever stuff possible with new Google Gboard keyboard, like this: pic.twitter.com/Vfer31ayT9
— Paul Kedrosky (@pkedrosky) May 12, 2016
Hey @Google, we love Gboard! The more ways to get GIFs on mobile, the better! https://t.co/ljAJhcrF8h pic.twitter.com/Hn7GrGe7qn
— GIPHY (@giphy) May 12, 2016
Early results look good:
– #1 in App Store
– 4.5★ rating from 3,500+ reviews
– 350k downloads on day 1 in US
I’m happy with this one. A new product from beginning to end, and supporting launch comms. A small team with a wide skill set came together to make something great. Love that. It would’ve been impossible to get it done without an amazing team. You know who you are. Thanks for the big effort. And to everyone who’s still reading… download, install, enjoy, we hope you like it.
Get it now in the App Store in English in the U.S., with more languages to come.
Official Google Blogpost
Launch Video (1.2m views)
YouTube Series (395k view)
Instagram Social Video (89k views)
Turning User Hacks into Product Insights (Great insights)