Google is reportedly working on a virtual keyboard interface for iOS in an effort to increases searches from the operating system.
In January, Bloomberg Business reported that Google paid Apple $1 billion to keep its search bar on the iPhone. Now, the company appears to be going even further to ensure people keep using Google to search from Apple's devices.
The keyboard news comes from The Verge, which says it has been in development for months, has been in use internally, and incorporates a variety of search options:
The Google keyboard incorporates a number of features meant to distinguish it from the stock iOS keyboard. Like its Android counterpart, the Google keyboard for iOS employs gesture-based typing, so you can slide your finger from one letter to the next and let Google guess your intended word. Tap the Google logo and you can access traditional web search. It also appears to have distinct buttons for pictures and GIF searches, both presumably powered by Google image search. The keyboard is visually distinct from the standard Android keyboard, which incorporates voice search but no text or image-based searching.
In recent years, Apple has distanced itself from Google where possible - most notably the use of Google Maps with the introduction of the initially flawed Apple Maps, which has been said to be greatly improved these days.
If Google can convince iOS users they need its keyboard it could help, though I can't honestly imagine it would make a huge difference.
As The Verge notes, it's unclear if Google actually plans to release this or not.
Image via Google