Translate text on the fly with Gboard keyboard for iOS

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Google Gboard
Google’s Gboard iOS keyboard app can translate everything you type.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Gboard has gone beyond helping you enter text. It can now be used to translate your words into a myriad of other languages on the fly.

This free add-on from Google can be used in any application where an on-screen keyboard is available.

Many iPhone or iPad users are probably unaware that they can replace the default iOS keyboard. But it’s as simple as installing any other software. Gboard is just one of many available in the App Store.

Google’s offering is something of a “Swiss army knife” with loads of features collected under one umbrella. Translations are just its latest trick.

Gboard translations

Google Translate has been around for years. Gboard has simply made it more convenient. 

This add-in gives users the option to open a small pop-up window where you can enter a phrase in one language and have converted to another. 

Reverse translations aren’t quite as easy. If you receive a text in a language you don’t understand, you can manually cut and paste the words into Gboard to see a translation. 

This software supports all the same languages as Google Trandlate. That’s 103 at last count.

Gboard and privacy

Privacy is always a concern with third-party keyboard add-ons: is Google recording everything you type?  Gboard promises “Your searches are sent to Google, but nothing else you type is.”

That said, all translations are done on remote Google servers, so don’t ask to have anything converted to Spanish you really want to keep private. 

More Gboard functions

This software can easily type in emojis, of course, and GIFs as well. And it supports the slide-to-type feature that Swype pioneered. 

Google searches are included, as mentioned earlier. You can easily look up and paste links to YouTube videos and Google Maps locations. Or you can look up people in your Contacts.

Google Gboard is available now on the iOS App Store. It’s free to download and use.