Gboard beta removes built-in Google Search for some

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Back in April, Google’s Android keyboard lost the prominent ‘G’ button for accessing search. Gboard’s built-in Google Search capability now looks to have been removed entirely today for some beta users.

After Google removed the G icon from the top-left corner, accessing search required users to first expand the suggestions strip, go to the overflow menu, and tap “Search,” which is the last item in the grid. The shortcut could be dragged for permanent suggestions bar access, but it still required an extra step compared to before where you could immediately start typing.

Several users on the latest Gboard beta (version 9.5.12) can no longer access the magnifying glass icon. When Google Keyboard became “Gboard” in 2016, one key aspect of the app was built-in access to web search.

Users could search the web with information presented as a carousel of cards and immediately share/paste results into their current conversation. This was very useful for grabbing addresses and phone numbers, as well as quick fact lookup.

This removal for some — but not all — users today would follow the trend of Google over the past few weeks de-emphasizing its prominence. We’ve encountered the disappearance on a Pixel 4, but not a Pixel 3, and several other Android devices.

Meanwhile, as of December, the Play Store listing for Gboard referenced this “Search and share” capability, but it’s no longer listed today. The functionality is still live and promoted on the iOS counterpart as offering nearby stores/restaurants, videos/images, weather forecast, news, and sport scores.

Search and share — Press the G to search and share anything from Google

All other features, including emoji and GIF lookup, are still available. Gboard search is useful, but messaging apps — like Messages — have been building similar, Assistant-branded features natively.

That said, this could just be a bug, and we’ve reached out to Google for more details.

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