Google Android Keyboard 5.0 Brings One-Handed Mode, Adjustable Height, Fine Curser Control

There are a ton of third-party keyboard apps available for Android, including some that introduce innovative features like swiping and one-handed use. Well guess what? Google rolled out a major update to its stock keyboard for Android that brings it up to par with and even surpasses some third-party alternatives.

For busy bodies that might not have an extra hand to spare—maybe you're carrying groceries or eating messy chicken wings slathered in sauce—the addition of a one-handed mode is a boon. To use it, you long-press the arrow key in the lower-right. What that does is squish the keyboard to the left or right of the screen to make it easier to reach all the keys with a single hand.

Google Keyboard for Android

Another neat addition that plays into that (but works independently) is gesture typing. It's similar to the method that was popularized by Swype and SwiftKey. With gesture typing, you slide your finger from letter to letter and you're finished spelling out a word, just lift your thumb and start the next one—you don't need to use the spacebar.

A subtle feature that's likely to prove a fan favorite is fine cursor control. One of the challenges with mobile can be getting the cursor exactly where you need it on the display. That gets a lot easier with Google Keyboard version 5.0, as you can drag your finger on the spacebar to move the cursor around. Similar to that is a delete word gestures that works by dragging your finger left on the backspace key. As you do that, letters are crossed out one-by-one and then deleted when you lift your finger.

You can change the height of the keyboard in settings (handy for tablets) and play with the look. Material Light and Material Dark border themes are available, though don't go looking for the Holo theme introduced with KitKat, as it's been removed.

The updated keyboard is available on Google Play.