Google Adds Haptic Feedback to Gboard for iOS

Gboard for iOS now lets you feel each button press on your iPhone. This is thanks to Google adding haptic feedback to its iOS keyboard. Android users have enjoyed haptic feedback for a while, but now Google is offering the same feature to iPhone users. What Is Haptic Feedback? Haptic feedback is exactly what the name suggests. Haptics is any form of interaction involving touch, and the feedback refers to what happens when you touch something. An extreme form is this technology is the mid-air haptics we saw at CES 2019. Gboard for Android has offered haptic feedback for a…

Read the full article: Google Adds Haptic Feedback to Gboard for iOS

Gboard for iOS now lets you feel each button press on your iPhone. This is thanks to Google adding haptic feedback to its iOS keyboard. Android users have enjoyed haptic feedback for a while, but now Google is offering the same feature to iPhone users.

What Is Haptic Feedback?

Haptic feedback is exactly what the name suggests. Haptics is any form of interaction involving touch, and the feedback refers to what happens when you touch something. An extreme form is this technology is the mid-air haptics we saw at CES 2019.

Gboard for Android has offered haptic feedback for a while, but for whatever reason, Google is only now offering the feature on Gboard for iOS too. Google has still beaten Apple to the task though, as the default iOS keyboard doesn’t offer haptic feedback.

How to Enable Haptic Feedback on Gboard for iOS

Google isn’t really making a big deal out of this. 9to5Google just happened to notice the new feature in the update notes for Gboard version 1.40. They read, “Feel your keys! You can now enable haptic feedback on key press by going to settings.”

Haptic feedback is available on all recent iPhones up to and including the iPhone 7. It isn’t enabled by default, so to enable it, click on Settings > Keyboard Setting, find “Enable haptic feedback on keypress” and toggle it across to “On”.

Once enabled, you’ll feel a small vibration through your finger every time you tap a key. This works for letters, numbers, symbols, as well as other options located within Gboard. Luckily, you can enable and disable haptic feedback at your leisure.

Download: Gboard for iOS

Don’t Forget the Default Keyboard for iOS…

Haptic feedback takes some getting used to. So, if you enable the option, our advice is to give it a chance before you disable it again. It isn’t for everyone, but it can be useful for those who need more than a visual clue that they’ve pressed a button.

When Google first launched it, we called Gboard for iOS “the best iPhone keyboard yet”. And that remains true to this day. However, the default keyboard for iOS has its plus points, and there are some essential iOS keyboard tips and tricks worth knowing.

Read the full article: Google Adds Haptic Feedback to Gboard for iOS

Genies brings lifelike avatars to other apps with $10M from celebrities

Genies is emerging as the top competitor to Snapchat’s wildly popular Bitmoji as Facebook, Apple, and Google have been slow to get serious about personalized avatars. Over one million people have customized dozens of traits to build a realistic digital lookalike of themselves from over a million possible permutations. When Genies launched a year ago […]

Genies is emerging as the top competitor to Snapchat’s wildly popular Bitmoji as Facebook, Apple, and Google have been slow to get serious about personalized avatars. Over one million people have customized dozens of traits to build a realistic digital lookalike of themselves from over a million possible permutations.

When Genies launched a year ago after raising $15 million in stealth, it misstepped by trying to show people’s Genies interpreting a few weekly news stories and seasonal moments. Now the startup has figured out users want more control, so it’s shifting its iOS and Android apps to let you chat through your avatar, who acts out keywords and sentiments in reaction to what you type, which you can then share elsewhere. And Genies is launching a software developer kit that charges other apps apps to let you create avatars and use them for chat, stickers, games, animations, and augmented reality.

Genies’ SDK puts its avatars in other apps

To power these new strategies and usher in what CEO Akash Nigam calls “the next wave of communication through avatars where people feel comfortable expressing themselves”, Genies has raised $10 million more. The party round comes from a wide range of investors from institutional firms like NEA and Tull Co; angels like Tinder’s Sean Rad, Raya’s Jared Morgenstern, and speaker Tony Robbins, athletes like Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving, and Richard Sherman; and musicians including A$AP Rocky, Offset from Migos, The Chainsmokers, and 50 Cent. Some like Offset have even used their Genie to stand in for them brand sponsorships so their avatar poses for photos instead of them.

“We’ve transitioned from being an app to an avatar services company” Nigam tells me. The son of WebMD’s co-founder, Nigam build a string of failed apps before meeting his Genies co-founders through University Of Michigan hackathons. Watching Snapchat-owned Bitmoji stay glued atop the app download charts inspired them to see more opportunity in the avatar space.

Genies in-app chat

The revamped Genies app lets you chat with up to six friends through your avatar. As you type, Genies detects actions, places, things, and emotions, and offers you corresponding animations your avatar acts out with a tap. Given people already have plenty of place to chat, it might be tough to get people to move real conversations inside Genies for more than a quick hit of novelty. But that functionality is also coming to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage’s keyboards where the expressive animations could naturally augment your threads.

With the Genies SDK, the startup is ready to challenge Snapchat’s new Snap Kit that lets apps build Bitmoji into their keyboards. But for $100,000 to $1 million in licensing fees, Genies allows apps to develop much deeper avatar features. Beyond creating keyboard stickers, games can plaster your Genies’ face over your character’s head, and utilities apps can have your Genie act out the weather or celebrate transactions. And since Genies is still taking off, partners can create experiences that feel fresh rather than just a repurposing of Bitmoji’s already-established cartoony avatars. Genies has also launched its first official brand deal, where Gucci has created a wheel in the Genies creator so you can deck out your mini-you with luxury clothing.

The Avatar Wars (from left): Facebook Avatars, Google Gboard Mini Stickers, Apple Memoji

Despite Bitmoji’s years of success, it’s yet to have a scaled competitor. TechCrunch broke the news that Facebook is working on a “Facebook Avatars” feature but seven months later it’s still not publicly testing and the prototype looks childish. Google’s Gboard just added the ability to create avatars based on a selfie, but they’re bland, low on detail, and far from fun looking. And Apple’s latest mobile operating system lets you create a Memoji, though they too look generic like actual emoji rather than something instantly identifiable as you. By designing avatars that not only look like you but like a cooler version of you, Genies could capture the hearts and faces of millions of teens and the influencers they follow.

Gboard Can Now Find the Perfect GIF, Emoji, or Sticker

gboard-android-features

Google is making Gboard more useful than ever. This time with a little help from AI. Now, instead of requiring you to manually search for the perfect GIF, emoji, or sticker, Gboard will recommend the visual elements guaranteed to liven up your boring conversations. Gboard Suggests GIFs, Emojis, and Stickers GIFs, emojis, and stickers have become an essential part of online discourse. I’m partial to GIFs myself, but others prefer adding emojis or stickers to their messages to add a personal touch. The problem is finding just the right one. This should be less of an issue for Gboard users…

Read the full article: Gboard Can Now Find the Perfect GIF, Emoji, or Sticker

Google is making Gboard more useful than ever. This time with a little help from AI. Now, instead of requiring you to manually search for the perfect GIF, emoji, or sticker, Gboard will recommend the visual elements guaranteed to liven up your boring conversations.

Gboard Suggests GIFs, Emojis, and Stickers

GIFs, emojis, and stickers have become an essential part of online discourse. I’m partial to GIFs myself, but others prefer adding emojis or stickers to their messages to add a personal touch. The problem is finding just the right one.

This should be less of an issue for Gboard users in the future, as Google has taught Gboard to do the heavy lifting for you. As detailed on The Keyword, “Gboard will use AI to suggest GIFs, emoji and stickers to you related to your conversation.”

All you need to do is type your message as usual. When Gboard spots an opportunity for you to add a GIF, emoji, or sticker, the GIF icon will flash. Click on it, and you’ll be presented with a selection of GIFs, emojis, and stickers Google thinks fit the conversation.

This whole process is handled on your device, which means it’s faster and more private than it would be if Gboard was communicating with Google’s servers. And just because this feature exists doesn’t mean you can’t still conduct a manual search.

Gboard for Android vs. Apple’s iOS Keyboard

The new recommendations have already been added to Gboard for Android. However, Google made no mention of if and when they’ll be added to Gboard for iOS. Still, Apple’s default keyboard already does something similar, suggesting emojis after certain words.

Whether you’re new to Gboard or a seasoned user, you may be interested in these things you didn’t know Gboard could do. And since that article was published Gboard has learned how to turn your selfies into stickers, and how to understand morse code.

Read the full article: Gboard Can Now Find the Perfect GIF, Emoji, or Sticker

Google’s Gboard now lets you create a set of emoji that look like you

Last summer, Google introduced its own take on Bitmoji with the launch of “Mini” stickers in its keyboard app, Gboard, which leverage machine learning to create illustrated stickers based on your selfie. Today, Google is expanding the Mini Stickers with the launch of what it calls “Emoji Minis” – meaning, emoji-sized stickers that look like […]

Last summer, Google introduced its own take on Bitmoji with the launch of “Mini” stickers in its keyboard app, Gboard, which leverage machine learning to create illustrated stickers based on your selfie. Today, Google is expanding the Mini Stickers with the launch of what it calls “Emoji Minis” – meaning, emoji-sized stickers that look like you.

Similar to the initial launch of Mini stickers, the new emoji are also created using machine learning techniques, Google says.

The company said the idea is to give people a way to use emoji they feel better represent who they really are.

“Emoji Minis are designed for those who may have stared into the eyes of emoji and not seen yourself staring back,” explained Google, in a blog post. “These sticker versions of the emoji you use every day are customizable so you can make them look just like you.”

That means your emoji can have differently colored hair – like green or blue or gray, for example – or piercings. It can be wearing a hat, head covering, or glasses.

Google says it uses neural networks to suggest skin tones, hairstyles, and accessories that you can then fine tune. You can choose a color for your hair, facial hair, or select different types of head covering and eyewear. You can also add freckles or wrinkles, if you want.

The result is a not just a single emoji, but a selection of options. For example, you can use your custom emoji as a zombie, mage, heart eyes, crying eyes, shruggie, and all the others.

This the third style of Mini stickers, first introduced last year. Already, these stickers come in two other styles – a more expressive “bold” and a nicer “sweet.”

While it may seem like a minor thing, creative emoji – and specifically, personalized emoji – can be a big draw for messaging apps. Apple advertises its clever Animoji and personalized Memoji as flagship features of its newer Face ID-powered phones. Snapchat bought Bitmoji (Bitstrips) to give its users access to more tools for creative expression. Samsung lets you make your own AR emoji that look like you. And people celebrated when the Unicode Consortium diversified to include more skin tones, and added, at long last, redheads.

Gboard, whose app has been downloaded over a billion times on Google Play, has a similar draw, thanks to its selfie-based stickers.

The company says the new Emoji Minis are available in all Gboard languages and countries, on both iOS and Android, starting today.

6 Different Ways to Type on an Android Phone

different-ways-type-android

Typing on smartphones has largely remained the same since their introduction. You poke at the slab of glass to text a friend, look up an address, or enter text anywhere else on your phone. But you’d surprised to know there several additional fun and interesting methods for text input on your phone. Here are the six major ways you can type on Android. 1. Standard Typing We begin with standard typing. Every Android phone ships with a default virtual keyboard that offers a QWERTY layout you’re probably familiar with. You can tap the individual keys to compose text, and don’t…

Read the full article: 6 Different Ways to Type on an Android Phone

different-ways-type-android

Typing on smartphones has largely remained the same since their introduction. You poke at the slab of glass to text a friend, look up an address, or enter text anywhere else on your phone.

But you’d surprised to know there several additional fun and interesting methods for text input on your phone. Here are the six major ways you can type on Android.

1. Standard Typing

We begin with standard typing. Every Android phone ships with a default virtual keyboard that offers a QWERTY layout you’re probably familiar with. You can tap the individual keys to compose text, and don’t need to worry about any setup process.

However, you can replace this stock keyboard with other third-party options available in the Play Store. You can configure a different virtual keyboard depending on what you’re looking for. There are all sorts of options—whether you want more customization, better accuracy, or a more reliable cross-platform backup feature.

While Google’s Gboard gets the job done well, SwiftKey is one of our favorite alternative Android keyboards. It offers powerful predictions, tons of customization options, and support for typing in multiple languages.

Download: SwiftKey (Free)

2. Gesture Typing

If you feel regular typing is too sluggish, try adopting gestures. Nearly all virtual keyboards today let you write by gliding your finger across the keys. Instead of tapping each key individually, with gesture typing, you can simply swipe to type without even lifting your finger.

In addition, a few apps also allow typing entire sentences with this method. All you need to do is visit the space bar when you’d like to move to another word and the virtual keyboard will add a space in between words. Again, SwiftKey is the best option here for accuracy and responsiveness.

Along with saving time, gesture typing also takes a lot less effort. Once you get used to it, there’s no going back. If you’re struggle to type quickly even after switching to swipe typing, check out these tips to type faster on an Android phone.

3. External Keyboards

Many people rely on their phone for getting real work done. If you’ve ever done so on a smartphone, you know virtual keyboards are not up to the task. In such scenarios, you need a better option. Luckily, Android lets you connect an external, full-fledged keyboard.

You have two ways to connect these. If they’re wireless, you can simply pair them over Bluetooth and should be all set without any further tweaking.

For USB wired keyboards, you’ll need a special dongle to use USB OTG (On-The-Go). This enables you to connect a full-size USB-A connector to your phone’s micro-USB or USB-C port. Since Android natively supports these keyboards, you don’t need to modify any settings to start using it.

What’s more, some keyboard manufacturers now offer boards designed for phones that include dedicated keys for navigating around a mobile OS. Logitech’s K series, like the K480, is a prime example of this.

Check out our complete guide to using a USB keyboard on Android for help.

4. Morse Code

If you’re in search of a little typing challenge, Android has you covered. Google’s Gboard comes with the ability to interpret Morse code so that you can type in the language of dots and dashes. You’ll have to know Morse code already, as this feature isn’t made for learning. Rather, it’s for disabled users who rely on Morse code for typing.

To switch to Morse code on Gboard, head to Settings > Languages & input. Select Virtual keyboard, then Gboard. Choose Languages, tap your current language, and slide through the list until you see Morse code. Select this and review the below options if you like. Hit Done and you’re ready.

At a text field where you want to write in Morse code, make sure you’re using Gboard. If you are, keep tapping the Globe icon until you reach Morse code. You can now enter text using dots and dashes.

5. Voice Typing

There’s a lot you can do with just your voice on Android. Voice input for typing is arguably the most convenient way to type on a smartphone, as long as you’re not in a public or noisy place. The button for dictating some text is situated at the top or bottom row on nearly every keyboard. You can tap it to begin speaking.

The engine will automatically figure out the spaces. However, you’ll need to tell it to insert punctuation marks. For instance, to type How are you?, you will have to say “How are you question mark.”

The keyboard will continue to transcribe what you speak until you pause for a couple of seconds or press the back key. Find the option to change the input language inside the settings icon on the left of the dictation screen.

6. Handwriting

You can even type with your own handwriting on Android, thanks to Gboard. To enable the mode, you will have to follow the same process as for Morse code above. Navigate to Settings > Languages & input > Virtual keyboard > Gboard. Then tap Languages, pick your current language, and slide through the list until you see Handwriting.

To use this method of input, select Gboard and tap the Globe icon until you reach Handwriting. On the panel, you can either write individual characters or draw the entire word. Plus, the feature also supports cursive if you’d like to use that.

Switch to an Open-Source Android Keyboard App

While typing on virtual keyboards like SwiftKey or Gboard, there’s always a chance of your data being at risk. Therefore, we would suggest switching to an open-source alternative. We have compiled a list of the best open-source virtual keyboards for Android if you’d like to make the jump.

Read the full article: 6 Different Ways to Type on an Android Phone

Fleksy’s keyboard grabs $800k+ via equity crowdfunding

The dev team that’s now engineering the Fleksy keyboard app has raised more than $800,000 via an equity crowdfunding route. As we reported a year ago, the development of Fleksy’s keyboard has been taken over by the Barcelona-based startup behind an earlier keyboard app called ThingThing. The team says their new funding raise — described […]

The dev team that’s now engineering the Fleksy keyboard app has raised more than $800,000 via an equity crowdfunding route.

As we reported a year ago, the development of Fleksy’s keyboard has been taken over by the Barcelona-based startup behind an earlier keyboard app called ThingThing.

The team says their new funding raise — described as a pre-Series A round — will be put towards continued product development of the Fleksy keyboard, including the core AI engine used for next word and content prediction, plus additional features being requested by users — such as swipe to type. 

Support for more languages is also planned. (Fleksy’s Android and iOS apps are currently available in 45+ languages.)

Their other big push will be for growth: Scaling the user-base via a licensing route to market in which the team pitches Android OEMs on the benefits of baking Fleksy in as the default keyboard — offering a high degree of customization, alongside a feature-set that boasts not just speedy typing but apps within apps and extensions. 

The Fleksy keyboard can offer direct access to web search within the keyboard, for example, as well as access to third party apps (in an apps within apps play) — to reduce the need for full app switching.

This was the original concept behind ThingThing’s eponymous keyboard app, though the team has refocused efforts on Fleksy. And bagged their first OEMs as licensing partners.

They’ve just revealed Palm as an early partner. The veteran brand unveiled a dinky palm-sized ‘ultra-mobile’ last week. The tiny extra detail is that the device runs a custom version of the Fleksy keyboard out of the box.

With just 3.3 inches of screen to play with, the keyboard on the Palm risks being a source of stressful friction. Ergo enter Fleksy, with gesture based tricks to speed up cramped typing, plus tried and tested next-word prediction.

ThingThing CEO Olivier Plante says Palm was looking for an “out of the box optimized input method” — and more than that “high customization”.

“We’re excited to team up with ThingThing to design a custom keyboard that delivers a full keyboard typing experience for Palm’s ultra mobile form factor,” adds Dennis Miloseski, co-founder of Palm, in a statement. “Fleksy enables gestures and voice-to-text which makes typing simple and convenient for our users on the go.”

Plante says Fleksy has more OEM partnerships up its sleeve too. “We’re pending to announce new partnerships very soon and grow our user base to more than 25 million users while bringing more revenue to the medium and small OEMs desperately looking to increase their profit margins — software is the cure,” he tells TechCrunch.

ThingThing is pitching itself as an neutral player in the keyboard space, offering OEMs a highly tweakable layer where the Qwerty sits as its strategy to compete with Android’s keyboard giants: Google’s Gboard and Microsoft-owned SwiftKey. 

“We changed a lot of things in Fleksy so it feels native,” says Plante, discussing the Palm integration. “We love when the keyboard feels like the brand and with Palm it’s completely a Palm keyboard to the end-user — and with stellar performance on a small screen.”

“We’ve beaten our competitor to the punch,” he adds. 

That said, the tiny Palm (pictured in the feature image at the top of this post) is unlikely to pack much of a punch in marketshare terms. While Palm is a veteran — and, to nerds, almost cult — brand it’s not even a mobile tiddler in smartphone marketshare terms.

Palm’s cute micro phone is also an experimental attempt to create a new mobile device category — a sort of netbook-esque concept of an extra mobile that’s extra portable — which looks unlikely to be anything other than extremely niche. (Added to its petite size, the Palm is a Verizon exclusive.)

Even so ThingThing is talking bullishly of targeting 550M devices using its keyboard by 2020.

At this stage its user-base from pure downloads is also niche: Just over 1M active users. But Plante says it has already closed “several phone brands partnerships” — saying three are signed, with three more in the works — claiming this will make Fleksy the default input method in more than 20-30 million active users in the coming months. 

He doesn’t name any names but describes these other partners as “other major phone brands”.

The plan to grow Fleksy’s user-base via licensing has attracted wider investor backing now, via the equity crowdfunding route. The team had initially been targeting ($300k). In all they’ve secured $815,119 from 446 investors.

Plante says they went down the equity crowdfunding route to spread their pitch more widely, and get more ambassadors on board — as well as to demonstrate “that we’re a user-centric/people/independent company aiming big”.

“We are keen to work and fully customize the keyboard to the OEM tastes. We know this is key for them so they can better compete against the others on more than simply the hardware,” he says, making the ‘Fleksy for OEMs’ pitch. “Today, the market is saturated with yet another box, better camera and better screen…. the missing piece in Android ecosystem is software differences.”

Given how tight margins remain for Android makers it remains to be seen how many will bite. Though there’s a revenue share arrangement that sweetens the deal.

It is also certainly true that differentiation in the Android space is a big problem. That’s why Palm is trying its hand at a smaller form factor — in a leftfield attempt to stand out by going small.

The European Union’s recent antitrust ruling against Google’s Android OS has also opened up an opportunity for additional software customization, via unbundled Google apps. So there’s at least a chance for some new thinking and ideas to emerge in the regional Android smartphone space. And that could be good for Spain-based ThingThing.

Aside from the licensing fee, the team’s business model relies on generating revenue via affiliate links and its fleksyapps platform. ThingThing then shares revenue with OEM partners, so that’s another carrot for them — offering a services topper on their hardware margin.

Though that piece will need scale to really spin up. Hence ThingThing’s user target for Fleksy being so big and bold.

“We’re working with brands in order to bring them into any apps where you type, which unlocks brand new use cases and enables the user to share conveniently and the brand to drive mobile traffic to their service,” says Plante. “On this note, we monetize via affiliate/deep linking and operating a fleksyapps Store.”

ThingThing has also made privacy by design a major focus — which is a key way it’s hoping to make the keyboard app stand out against data-mining big tech rivals.

Fleksy’s keyboard grabs $800k+ via equity crowdfunding

The dev team that’s now engineering the Fleksy keyboard app has raised more than $800,000 via an equity crowdfunding route. As we reported a year ago, the development of Fleksy’s keyboard has been taken over by the Barcelona-based startup behind an earlier keyboard app called ThingThing. The team says their new funding raise — described […]

The dev team that’s now engineering the Fleksy keyboard app has raised more than $800,000 via an equity crowdfunding route.

As we reported a year ago, the development of Fleksy’s keyboard has been taken over by the Barcelona-based startup behind an earlier keyboard app called ThingThing.

The team says their new funding raise — described as a pre-Series A round — will be put towards continued product development of the Fleksy keyboard, including the core AI engine used for next word and content prediction, plus additional features being requested by users — such as swipe to type. 

Support for more languages is also planned. (Fleksy’s Android and iOS apps are currently available in 45+ languages.)

Their other big push will be for growth: Scaling the user-base via a licensing route to market in which the team pitches Android OEMs on the benefits of baking Fleksy in as the default keyboard — offering a high degree of customization, alongside a feature-set that boasts not just speedy typing but apps within apps and extensions. 

The Fleksy keyboard can offer direct access to web search within the keyboard, for example, as well as access to third party apps (in an apps within apps play) — to reduce the need for full app switching.

This was the original concept behind ThingThing’s eponymous keyboard app, though the team has refocused efforts on Fleksy. And bagged their first OEMs as licensing partners.

They’ve just revealed Palm as an early partner. The veteran brand unveiled a dinky palm-sized ‘ultra-mobile’ last week. The tiny extra detail is that the device runs a custom version of the Fleksy keyboard out of the box.

With just 3.3 inches of screen to play with, the keyboard on the Palm risks being a source of stressful friction. Ergo enter Fleksy, with gesture based tricks to speed up cramped typing, plus tried and tested next-word prediction.

ThingThing CEO Olivier Plante says Palm was looking for an “out of the box optimized input method” — and more than that “high customization”.

“We’re excited to team up with ThingThing to design a custom keyboard that delivers a full keyboard typing experience for Palm’s ultra mobile form factor,” adds Dennis Miloseski, co-founder of Palm, in a statement. “Fleksy enables gestures and voice-to-text which makes typing simple and convenient for our users on the go.”

Plante says Fleksy has more OEM partnerships up its sleeve too. “We’re pending to announce new partnerships very soon and grow our user base to more than 25 million users while bringing more revenue to the medium and small OEMs desperately looking to increase their profit margins — software is the cure,” he tells TechCrunch.

ThingThing is pitching itself as an neutral player in the keyboard space, offering OEMs a highly tweakable layer where the Qwerty sits as its strategy to compete with Android’s keyboard giants: Google’s Gboard and Microsoft-owned SwiftKey. 

“We changed a lot of things in Fleksy so it feels native,” says Plante, discussing the Palm integration. “We love when the keyboard feels like the brand and with Palm it’s completely a Palm keyboard to the end-user — and with stellar performance on a small screen.”

“We’ve beaten our competitor to the punch,” he adds. 

That said, the tiny Palm (pictured in the feature image at the top of this post) is unlikely to pack much of a punch in marketshare terms. While Palm is a veteran — and, to nerds, almost cult — brand it’s not even a mobile tiddler in smartphone marketshare terms.

Palm’s cute micro phone is also an experimental attempt to create a new mobile device category — a sort of netbook-esque concept of an extra mobile that’s extra portable — which looks unlikely to be anything other than extremely niche. (Added to its petite size, the Palm is a Verizon exclusive.)

Even so ThingThing is talking bullishly of targeting 550M devices using its keyboard by 2020.

At this stage its user-base from pure downloads is also niche: Just over 1M active users. But Plante says it has already closed “several phone brands partnerships” — saying three are signed, with three more in the works — claiming this will make Fleksy the default input method in more than 20-30 million active users in the coming months. 

He doesn’t name any names but describes these other partners as “other major phone brands”.

The plan to grow Fleksy’s user-base via licensing has attracted wider investor backing now, via the equity crowdfunding route. The team had initially been targeting ($300k). In all they’ve secured $815,119 from 446 investors.

Plante says they went down the equity crowdfunding route to spread their pitch more widely, and get more ambassadors on board — as well as to demonstrate “that we’re a user-centric/people/independent company aiming big”.

“We are keen to work and fully customize the keyboard to the OEM tastes. We know this is key for them so they can better compete against the others on more than simply the hardware,” he says, making the ‘Fleksy for OEMs’ pitch. “Today, the market is saturated with yet another box, better camera and better screen…. the missing piece in Android ecosystem is software differences.”

Given how tight margins remain for Android makers it remains to be seen how many will bite. Though there’s a revenue share arrangement that sweetens the deal.

It is also certainly true that differentiation in the Android space is a big problem. That’s why Palm is trying its hand at a smaller form factor — in a leftfield attempt to stand out by going small.

The European Union’s recent antitrust ruling against Google’s Android OS has also opened up an opportunity for additional software customization, via unbundled Google apps. So there’s at least a chance for some new thinking and ideas to emerge in the regional Android smartphone space. And that could be good for Spain-based ThingThing.

Aside from the licensing fee, the team’s business model relies on generating revenue via affiliate links and its fleksyapps platform. ThingThing then shares revenue with OEM partners, so that’s another carrot for them — offering a services topper on their hardware margin.

Though that piece will need scale to really spin up. Hence ThingThing’s user target for Fleksy being so big and bold.

“We’re working with brands in order to bring them into any apps where you type, which unlocks brand new use cases and enables the user to share conveniently and the brand to drive mobile traffic to their service,” says Plante. “On this note, we monetize via affiliate/deep linking and operating a fleksyapps Store.”

ThingThing has also made privacy by design a major focus — which is a key way it’s hoping to make the keyboard app stand out against data-mining big tech rivals.

Google’s iPhone keyboard introduces multilingual typing

After announcing the bilingual Assistant earlier this week, Google has refreshed its Gboard keyboard on App Store with the ability to type in more than one language at a time without having to switch the keyboard language.

Gboard, Google’s software keyboard for iPhone and iPad with gesture-based typing, search, GIFs, emoji and more, was updated Friday on App Store with a new multilingual typing feature.... Read the rest of this post here


"Google’s iPhone keyboard introduces multilingual typing" is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Google Can Now Turn Your Selfies Into Stickers

You can now create a set of stickers to suit all occasions using Gboard. The new feature, called Mini Stickers, turns you into an animated character, and all from a single selfie. No, this isn’t very original (Bitmoji, anyone?) but it is kinda cool. Google Creates a Mini Version of You Google’s new Mini Stickers use a combination of machine learning, neural networks, and illustrations by an artist to turn you into a cartoon character. Or avatar, or emoji, or whatever else you want to call it. And all from nothing more than a selfie. Meet Minis! Easy to create…

Read the full article: Google Can Now Turn Your Selfies Into Stickers

You can now create a set of stickers to suit all occasions using Gboard. The new feature, called Mini Stickers, turns you into an animated character, and all from a single selfie. No, this isn’t very original (Bitmoji, anyone?) but it is kinda cool.

Google Creates a Mini Version of You

Google’s new Mini Stickers use a combination of machine learning, neural networks, and illustrations by an artist to turn you into a cartoon character. Or avatar, or emoji, or whatever else you want to call it. And all from nothing more than a selfie.

Mini Stickers create a virtual you based on your visual characteristics. Which means your skin tone, face shape, hairstyle, eye color, and more besides. And if you’re not happy with Google’s interpretation of you then you can even customize it.

How to Use Google’s Mini Stickers

All you need to do is open Gboard for Android or Gboard for iOS, and tap the Emoji button. Then, select the Stickers icon, and then tap on the Mini icon. Finally, hit the Create button, take a selfie, and watch Google work its magic.

At this point you can accept Google’s creation or customize your Mini. You’ll then have a selection of stickers to use, with both a “Bold” and “Sweet” flavor of you to choose from. And you can send them to everyone you know for no apparent reason.

Mini Stickers First Appeared on Allo

This feature has been ported across from Google Allo, where it was dubbed Selfie Stickers. While Google Allo isn’t disappearing, Google has paused development on the messaging app. Which is why its best features are being introduced to other Google apps.

If you’re intrigued by Allo you should read our beginner’s guide to Allo and Duo. And if you’re using Gboard, you should see why we described it as the best iPhone keyboard yet or discover things you didn’t know Gboard for Android could do.

Read the full article: Google Can Now Turn Your Selfies Into Stickers