People familiar with Google's plans told The Verge that the unnamed keyboard project has been in development for months and is currently being used or tested by a select group of Google employees. It is unclear whenGoogle plans to release the product, if ever, but for a company reliant on digital ad revenue the promise of embedding search engine capability across iOS is undoubtedly tantalizing.
While a working example has yet to surface publicly, sources say Google's keyboard supports gesture-based typing in the style of popular solutions like Swype or SwiftKey. In addition to usability, the keyboard sports a Google logo that, when tapped, executes a Web search. Whether or not that search takes place within the keyboard interface is unknown, though Apple applies strict policies for products that affect UI components deemed essential to the iOS user experience.
Google's iOS keyboard also appears to sport dedicated search buttons for pictures and GIFs, which the publication believes are routed through Google image search.
Apple first opened access to third-parties with iOS 8 in 2014.