A report came out yesterday (March 22) in The Verge that said that Google is about to release ts own third-party keyboard for the iPhone. According to the report, they keyboard will use swiping/gesture-based typing and predictive text.
It seems that Google is trying to increase the number of searches coming from iOS devices, like the iPhone. Apple allowed third party apps to replace its own keyboard with the release of iOS 8.
The analysis cited by The Verge says that most smartphone users do less than one mobile search per day. Of course, there are different kinds of users, some who do a lot of mobile searches, and others who do less. In a 2012 US-based survey conducted by Greg Sterling (the survey included 1,500 smartphone users), he found that almost half of those partook in the survey didn’t use Google on their phones. 14 percent of the respondents conducted more than 30 searches per month. More than likely, if the same survey were conducted today, four years later, I think it would be unsurprising that the number of mobile searches would have grown dramatically.
Over the last several years, it seems that apps have siphoned off search volume from Google, moving them away from dead center of content discovery on mobile devices. Even then, Google stated last year that, in the US, there were more searches coming from mobile devices than PCs. It also seems that, even though Google has “moved away from dead center of content discovery on mobile devices,” their mobile revenues have been growing steadily.
There are several things that Google has done to try getting back into the middle of the mobile user experience, such as AMP, app indexing predictive search, conversational search, and other things along those lines to help improve a user’s experience on mobile. This third party keyboard looks to be part of Google’s multi-faceted mobile strategy in a larger context.