Google has announced that two years after the launch, Gboard virtual keyboard now includes support for 500 languages on Android. This according to Google means that more than 90% of the world can now type in their first language with Gboard.
Google launched Gboard in December 2016 with support for 100 languages. Gboard currently supports more than 40 writing systems, ranging from alphabets used across many languages, like Roman and Cyrillic, to scripts that are used for only one language, like Ol Chiki. The keyboard layouts are customized for each of the language varieties for more natural communications, as are the autocorrect and predictive text features.
Google says that in addition to designing a new keyboard layout, every time a new language is added to Gboard, it created a new machine learning language model which trains Gboard to know when and how to autocorrect your typing, or to predict your next word. Hitting such a milestone in such a short period is an achievement itself for Google, since adding new language needs to have enough written text to train the AI. That’s simple for English, but for many of the world’s languages, though, this process is much harder.
When it can’t find data online, the company share a list of writing prompts with native speakers, so it can create new text corpora from scratch. It then will analyze text corpora to figure out which characters to include and to determine how frequently they’re used.