As with many first-party Android apps outside of specific properties like Gmail and YouTube, Google has been late in coming out with noteworthy innovations. For years, the apps like SMS, Clock, and keyboard that Android used were simply based on AOSP (Android Open Source Project), which, while functional, sorely lacked in non-trivial features. Ironically, one of Gboard’s most-wanted features actually came from that era but never materialized, leaving Samsung and Swiftkey to take the lead in this app category.
That could be changing soon, based on evidence spotted by Android Police. In the recent beta version of Gboard, there is a new toggle that includes the description, “Split layout to include duplicate keys,” suggesting the feature will arrive eventually. That toggle doesn’t seem to do anything yet, and there is still no split keyboard layout with Gboard on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, even with this beta version.
This isn’t the first time Google’s keyboard has shown evidence of a split layout feature, though, which means Gboard fans will no doubt approach the news with cautious excitement. Back before there was even a Gboard, the stock Android keyboard was also found to have a split layout in development, but the option never materialized. Google is notorious for pulling features in development before they see the light of day, so it won’t be out of character for this to happen again.