Google launched the updated version of Google Keyboard for Android, now called Gboard, recently introducing new features such as search directly from within the keyboard interface.
I'm not a huge fan of the new functionality as I don't require it at all. Unfortunately, there is no option to disable it completely in the application's settings. While browsing through the preferences the app makes available, I noticed quite a few that are privacy related.
It was quite disturbing to realize that many of them were enabled by default, submitting data to Google in the process when the keyboard app is used on the Android device.
This privacy guide for Gboard was born out of this.
To get started, open any chat app on your device, e.g. WhatsApp, start a chat with someone, and tap on the G-button that the keyboard displays now when the keyboard is opened.
Select the preferences icon then to open the Gboard settings.
The main privacy settings that the app provides are found under Text Correction, Search, and Advanced.
Tap on Text Correction first. You find automated text correction and suggestion options there for the most part. For instance, you may enable or disable the showing of suggestions while you type, or the blocking of offensive words.
Personalized suggestions is enabled by default. Gboard "learns" from other Google apps and services, to improve suggestions.
Search displays only two options. One to hide the G-button (but not to remove it completely), anothe for predictive search.
This feature analyses what you type while you do so to suggest matching Google Search queries. What this does is send anything you type to Google Search for processing.
Most privacy related options are found under advanced. There you find that the sharing of usage statistics and the sharing of snippets is enabled by default.
Share usage statistics sends keyboard usage statistics to Google automatically. Share snippets on the other hand what and how you type in Google apps to Google.
If you use Gboard with suggestions, you may have noticed that there is no option to delete suggestions either completely or individually. You can clear the data of the application in the Android settings, but that removes all custom settings and customization from the app.
I dislike the extra line the G-Button or >-Button take when you use the keyboard. Since I have no use for search or suggestions, I decided to install a different keyboard instead on my Android device. My choice fell on Hacker's Keyboard, a free keyboard app for Android that requires no extra permissions.
Now You: Which keyboard app do you use?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.