One of our biggest gripes about the T-Mobile G1 and Android is the inability to type on the touchscreen. There is no virtual onscreen keyboard so every time you need to type, you'll need to flip the G1 horizontally and slide out the QWERTY keyboard. This quickly proves to be a nuisance for quick things such as SMS or short e-mails. Plus, when the keyboard is open, it's nearly impossible to use the device one handed.

Luckily, the Android Roadmap has got us covered. Here are the details of the soft keyboard:

Q1 2009
Input method framework (IMF) This feature will enable support for input methods other than physical keyboards, for example soft keyboards. IMF will also enable application developers to provide IME (see below) applications based on the framework.
Input method engines (IME) IME will support soft keyboards, a dictionary of suggestions, and a suggestion algorithm. The Android platform may contain few reference IMEs, and developers can provide IME applications through the Android Market.


Make no mistake, our thumbs love the physical keyboard on the G1, it's a very well implemented system. But being on Android is all about openness and choice, having the soft keyboard option is a no brainer. With suggestions and algorithms, we're very confident that the G1 can provide a great soft keyboard along with the already great physical one.

[Android Roadmap via Gizmodo]


Reader comments

Android Virtual Touchscreen Keyboard Coming In 2009


Going slightly off-topic, how "soft" is the hardware keyboard?

I mean, i'd love to re-program that redundant MENU key on the pull out keyboard. Eg. make it mean "long-touch" so it brings up the copy/cut/paste menu.

Is this official? And will it be a software upgrade or application for the current G1 phone?

these are frameworks that will be added to the android SDK which will, in turn potentially allow developers and handset designers to build applications to use different input methods. short version: these will allow people to create soft keyboards for future android devices and possibly for the g1, either as an add on application or as part of a software update.