Skip to main content

Google’s Gboard is about to get a lot better at speech recognition

Google’s Gboard is already one of the most-loved software keyboards for mobile, and for good reason. It’s packed with awesome features, including great ways to search for GIFs and images, and even a way to make your own emoji. Now, the keyboard is getting even better thanks to new Google’s new all-neural on-device speech recognizer, which is now rolling out to phones with Gboard, starting with Pixel devices.

Speech-to-text algorithms aren’t necessarily anything new. We’ve been able to type with our voice using Gboard for some time now. Despite that, the tech that makes it all work is rather complex. First, the device records your voice, then sends it to the cloud where algorithms try to determine what’s being said. With the new speech recognizer, however, Google is taking that process offline, meaning voice recognition will take place on your device and will be a whole lot faster.

There is a reason Google has been using cloud-based processing up until now. Its “decoder graph,” which is the component of the algorithm that matches spoken words to written words, took up a hefty 2GB of storage. Google, however, has been working on shrinking that. According to its blog post, the company was able to use “parameter quantization and hybrid kernel techniques” to compress its speech algorithms. Sound complex? It doesn’t really matter how Google minimized storage demands for its speech algorithms — what matters is that it was able to reduce its decoder graph to 80MB, which is easily small enough to fit on a modern smartphone. The development of the new tech took five years.

Of course, it may take a while for the new tech to roll out to all smartphones. Google is starting by bringing the Gboard update to Pixel phones, and only in American English. It’s likely, however, that the tech will be brought to more phones, and eventually to more languages, too. If you own a Pixel phone and use your device in American English, it’s worth checking to see if you have an update to Gboard available now. If not, Google rolls updates out in waves and you may need to wait a few days.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
When is my phone getting Android 14? Here’s everything we know
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra next to the Google Pixel 7 Pro.

Google has released the second public beta for Android 14, its upcoming smartphone software for Google Pixel devices. We've officially left the developer preview stage and are a major step closer to Android 14's final release later this year.

With Android 14, there are some priority changes in app behaviors and compatibility instead of just new features and other enhancements. There are also going to be improvements made to settings for privacy, security, and even system health. In short, Android 14 may not be packed with a ton of brand new features, but it will refine and streamline what is already there.

Read more
I’m excited for the Google Pixel Fold, and you should be too
Side view of the Pixel Fold

It’s official: the Google Pixel Fold is coming. After months of rumors and speculation, Google revealed the Pixel Fold on Star Wars Day, of all days. With the tagline “May The Fold Be With You,” Google dropped a tweet that showed off the Pixel Fold in all of its glory. And now, after the official announcement at Google I/O 2023, the Google Pixel Fold is shaping up to be one of the more exciting releases this year.

I’ve always been an iPhone gal, but since I joined Digital Trends, I’ve been checking out Android phones more than ever before. I’ve taken quite a liking to the Pixel lineup of devices, including the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a, which also just dropped today. But the Google Pixel Fold is the one device I can’t wait to get my hands on, especially when compared to the competing Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (and the Galaxy Z Fold 5, which is likely coming this year too).
It looks like the perfect compact size

Read more
Google Pixel 7a colors: here’s every option you can get
The Google Pixel 7a in Charcoal, Snow, Sea, and Coral colors.

While the technical specs of a phone play a large part in the decision-making process of picking up a new device, how it looks can be equally as important for many people. Luckily, phone manufacturers have caught on to that fact and provide multiple color options for most modern smartphones — allowing buyers to have a few options when picking up their favorite new smartphones.

The color options that Google has had on offer over the past few years have been some of our favorites, and the new Pixel 7a is following in the footsteps of countless Google devices by being offered in some excellent shades. There are four Pixel 7a color options in total, and honestly, it's a little tough to pick a favorite.

Read more