I’m a third-party keyboard junkie. I always have multiple keyboards installed on my phone and am always shifting between them, especially when one comes out with an update. However, it’s been a while since I’ve had Google’s GBoard app on my phone, or so I thought – but it’s still there, masquerading under the Google Search app.
While I was playing with another keyboard, I went to enable it through iOS settings and saw that the Google keyboard was present. I didn’t think twice and enabled it as well. After a half day of playing around with it, I realized GBoard wasn’t for me and went to uninstall the app – only to realize the app was not there! I went through all of my menu screens to make sure I wasn’t hiding it somewhere, and sure enough, the GBoard is nowhere to be found!
Thinking there was some fluke, I reinstalled and uninstalled the GBoard, only to find the Google keyboard ever-present my settings. Getting suspicious I went and uninstalled the Google Search app, and bingo: the keyboard was mostly gone!
Out of all the keyboards that I’ve used, I’ve never seen an uninstall leave a bastardized version of itself in iOS settings. To confirm my findings, I reinstalled the Google Search app and as expected, the keyboard is back!
What is going on here Google?? Nowhere in your Search app description do you disclose that you’re embedding a keyboard. Is this a sneaky way to get people to try GBoard or an insidious way to collect inputs from users?
This sets a very bad precedent in mobile apps. I am often leary of desktop programs that sneak other software onto your system during install, but this is worse, you don’t even have the option to opt out!