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Stock Jelly Bean Keyboard Now Available on Google Play

Google is moving to provide a more consistent Android experience across multiple form factors, ODMs and wireless carriers by releasing the stock Android keyboard as a standalone app on Google Play, likely ripped out of Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean".

Google is reportedly pulling out key Android components from the core platform so that the company can update the OS across multiple form factors without having to wait on handset and tablet makers, and wireless carriers. It also provides Android customers with a choice: stick with the OEM-based version, or install a more Android-native feature baked fresh in Google's oven.

"Android is an open platform, so you can customize your device to your liking; choosing your own keyboard is just one example of what’s possible – and there are a lot of great keyboards to choose from on Google Play."

Google Keyboard features Gesture Typing, allowing users to glide through letters to form a word – lift the finger to enter a space. It also provides automatic error correction, word predictions, Voice Tapping for on-the-go messaging, dictionaries for 26 languages, and keyboard layouts for a dozen more. Currently it's only offered for "English-speaking locals", but more countries will be added soon.

After installing the "app", users are directed to the "Language & Input" section in "Settings" to check "Google Keyboard" as the default input source, and then as the active text-input method. That's it. To reverse the process, head back into the same section to choose a different keyboard (it was Android keyboard AOSP on the DROID RAZR HD).

The launch of Google's stock keyboard arrives after SVP for Android and Chrome Sundar Pichai called for a more consistent experience across all Android devices while still enabling ODMs to add their own experiences as well. Google wants to see a level of commonality so that users can move from one Android device to another without having to learn an entirely new "platform".

"We want to set ourselves up to be consistent, to update across all these devices and to have a common user experience across these devices," he said, referring to tablets, smartphones, wearable devices and more that are powered by Google's mobile platform.

To get Google's keyboard, head over to Google Play here. Currently it's only compatible with Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" and higher.

  • WithoutWeakness
    I'm really glad Google is doing this to bring some newer features to users who have devices that aren't being supported on the newer versions of Android. I do think it's a little shortsighted to only support v4.0 and higher though. There is still ~40% of the Android community that has been trapped on Eclair and Gingerbread (v2.2 and v2.3) by their manufacturers and carriers. If Google were to support these versions of Android as well it would bring new features to users who are unable to upgrade their devices. As it stands, only users who are using Ice Cream Sandwich (v4.0) are going to be able to use this. Everyone on 4.1 and 4.2 already have this keyboard built into the OS. ICS (v4.0) makes up ~25% of the Android usage share but that 25% who can use this keyboard could grow to 65% if Google added support for users back to v2.2.
    I know it's a lot of work but I also know Google has the resources to make it possible. Hopefully those users on older devices have options for custom ROMs that can bump them up to v4.0+.
    Reply
  • Mark H Harris
    I have about five keyboards on my 4.2 system (Galaxy SII from Samsung). They are all necessary for one reason or another, mostly due to the requirements of some app or other... for instance TerminalIDE requires the TerminalIDE keyboard (full ansii qwerty) for the app to function properly... so no, one keyboard fits all will not work... even if Google wants to make it so...
    I do agree with the first comment that features of 4.x should be propagated down to Eclair and GingerBread. My phone was stuck on Gingerbread for more than a year due to instabilities that were not fixed until 4.1.2
    I do like the new android keyboard; but its not a perfect fit for everyone.
    Cheers
    Reply
  • lamorpa
    The answer to legacy Gingerbread phones is - buy a New Phone! What, did you think this was a lifetime purchase? The new, basic phones are 5X faster and come (obviously) updated. Do you complain when your car is not working as well as a new one when it's 8 years old, or you have to go every year for your annual physical? That's the nature of life cycles. How many iPhone 3's do you see? At least Apple has solved the problem by convincing their congregation they must have the latest and greatest handset to be cool. Get with the Jelly Bean program after 2 years. Is it that confusing?
    Reply
  • lamorpa
    The answer to legacy Gingerbread phones is - buy a New Phone! What, did you think this was a lifetime purchase? The new, basic phones are 5X faster and come (obviously) updated. Do you complain when your car is not working as well as a new one when it's 8 years old, or you have to go every year for your annual physical? That's the nature of life cycles. How many iPhone 3's do you see? At least Apple has solved the problem by convincing their congregation they must have the latest and greatest handset to be cool. Get with the Jelly Bean program after 2 years. Is it that confusing?
    Reply