Gingerbread feature: The Android 2.3 keyboard

On any phone without a physical set of keys, the on-screen keyboard is one of the most important parts of the operating system.  Android has a leg-up over other platforms here, as third-party replacement keyboards (like the crowd favorite Swype) are easy to install, and many of them are excellent in their own right.

That doesn't mean the keyboard that comes with the operating system should be a slouch, though.  With Gingerbread (Android 2.3 for those keeping score at home), Google has really outdone itself.  The new multitouch keyboard is easy to use, offers most everything we've been asking for, and is a huge improvement over the previous versions.

You don't have to wait for your phone to get it's Gingerbread upgrade to try it out, either.  XDA member hotaru has worked a little magic and you can load up the Gingerbread keyboard on most any device running Android 2.1 or higher -- check that out right here, and check out the video of it in action after the break.

YouTube link for mobile viewing

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • No indication on the individual keys that there might be options on a long press. That makes it a huge guessing game. I hope you can turn off key press noise, because nothing slows you down like waiting for the key noise to play. Still its a very basic keyboard, nothing at all like SwiftKey which knows what words come next before you type a single letter.
  • Following up on my own post.... The sweet spot on each key seems to be moved further toward the bottom of the key, or at least is taller than the stock keyboards. This has always bothered me on the Nexus One, the sweet spot on the keys were at the top of the key. This made it so you had to tap higher on each key than seemed normal. Its much better in this keyboard. Missing hepatic feed back upon selecting from the suggestions. Still not enough to drag me away from Swiftkey.
  • "The sweet spot on each key seems to be moved further toward the bottom of the key, or at least is taller than the stock keyboards. This has always bothered me on the Nexus One, the sweet spot on the keys were at the top of the key. This made it so you had to tap higher on each key than seemed normal. Its much better in this keyboard." Thank you.I couldn't put my finger on (pun intended) the exact change here, but you're 100% correct.
  • Can't get the apk file to download directly to Droid X. Yes I have "all unknown sources" checked as I've loaded other apks before and just rechecked. It says "download unsuccessful" then something about it not being a supported file. Sigh
  • I'm glad that I can get it working on my Epic. It does represent a considerable improvement over the stock keyboard though. Of course, for Epic owners, I suppose that this is less important because I've got a hardware keyboard.
  • I've had my Epic for a while, and I have to say that the only time I ever use the hardware keyboard is to type a complicated password. In other words, almost never. SwiftKey is just too good. I can type in total relaxation with just one finger as quickly as iPhone users peck furiously at their screwy keyboard with braindead autocorrection. I even find Swype to be too tedious. Why should I be forced to input every last character of every last word? Not sure what my point is anymore. Oh yeah, I remember. I don't think I'll buy another Android device with a hardware keyboard. Just not worth the extra thickness for something I essentially never use.
  • I've been using this keyboard for weeks. It's awesome. Typing with my thumb in portrait, I make no errors.
  • For those having issues downloading/installing: Gingerbread Keyboard
  • Thanks!!
  • Hmmm, now the install is failing after I approve the permissions. Sighhhhh
  • I have had this running on my EVO for a few days and I have to say its much better than the old keyboard. However, I use Swype and there is no going back to a regular keyboard after using Swype.
  • working great on my Evo
  • Tim242, Says application not installed. DX
  • I still like SwiftKey keyboard the best after trying out thirteen different ones including swype and the gingerbread keyboard.
    P.S. this is still definitely not blind type
  • Looking forward trying it on my Nexus One. :)
  • Works great on my incredible. I've noticed a couple of things though....My keyboard has an "enter" key instead of the "smiley" button. Also, my copy and paste isn't the new style. Is that because i'm still on froyo and not gingerbread?
  • WOW...much better than the Droid X's keyboard my X. Gonna give up swype (alternative to the X's keyboard) a bit and try this for this for a while.
  • The "added" functionality of the punctuation key has been there a long time on my Droid with the stock keyboard. The selection mechanism for editing and cut/paste looks great though.
  • OMG I had no idea this was multi touch and ive been using it as my daily for about 3 weeks now!!! Hahahahahaha!!
  • OMG I had no idea this was multi touch and ive been using it as my daily for about 3 weeks now!!! Hahahahahaha!!
  • I installed it today and to be honest I do not like it. The keys seem a little small and too close together in portrait mode. I also do not show the smiley key. The voice command works very well. In my opinion
    Swiftkey is still the best with Swype right behind it.
  • Wouldn't it be cool if Swiftkey's prediction engine and swype's drawing engine could simply be plug-ins to the standard keyboard? (or any keyboard). Why is everyone re-inventing entire keyboards when all they really want to add is specific functionality?
  • I hope swype gets its text selection to be a little simpler like this... I know about the alternate keypad with the arrows and what not but it's nothing as elegant as the little flags that this has
  • I tried installing(at&t captivate rooted) using the SWM and keep getting this error message: INSTALL_FAILED_INSUFFICIENT_STORAGE anyone know what the deal is? Every time I've used the SWM for other apps I get this message!!I have PLENTY of memory left...
  • love this keyboard.
  • The new copy/paste is apparently a function of gingerbread, and not the keyboard. On a phone without a keyboard, positioning the cursor is a PITA. I much prefer the IME-mod keyboard to this if for no reason other than the ease of moving the cursor around. Heck I prefer the stock htc keyboard for the same reason. Once we get the full gingerbread, with the new copy/paste, I'll reconsider.
  • The article is (I think unintentionally) misleading - making it appear that the copy/paste/selection features come with the keyboard. This is apparently not the case. Unfortunately, this functionality is why I downloaded the keyboard in the first place. I still think it's an improvement over the stock keyboard on my Droid, but expectations set by the article led to disappointment.
  • Swype makes a conventional keyboard obsolete on physical keyboard-less devices. It's nice that they have improved the keyboard but it's too little, too late, below the bar (Swype), and behind the curve. This is only more so since the Swype keyboard is opening the floodgates. Everyone else is just 'also participating' but not leading.
  • Swype this, swype that. Swype isn't all it's swyped out to be.
  • Thanks Tim I get tired of the "swype hoopla" too and quite frankly I find Swype quite annoying!!!
  • just downloaded. so far so good. it looks clean
  • On my EVO, I've been running the stock 2.2 keyboard (downloaded as HTC/SPRINT decided that their keyboard was better) and loved it. I will tell you this. After dl this 2.3 keyboard, it's an absolute MUST HAVE. Never a fan of swype, this thing kill it. Seriously great. I probably can type faster on my EVO than on my PC..with voice and auto correct.. Unreal. Oh..and I know how to "type" as in I took typing in high class ever. Okay..hold up. I watched the video and I CANNOT replicate the functionality of the "tap and edit" feature. My text box is green and not orange, are you running a custom rom? Love the keyboard, however I would love to have to "tap" to edit as your review shows. Anyone have suggestions? I downloaded it via XDA for 2.2 on my EVO. Thanks!! the thread. It appears that if you are running a 2.3 rom then INDEED you will have this functionality. If not, no dice. Since my EVO is not Gingerbread yet, I suppose I wait. That said, still a much improved keyboard from stock 2.2!
  • Need to b rooted 4 this???
  • Swype is fantastic, it really is. But in landscape mode it's worthless. I might as well just use the stock keyboard in landscape. Swype is dandy for when you're holding the phone with one hand, otherwise Swiftkey and this new Gingerbread keyboard are where it's at.
  • One huge problem for me is editing! When I double tap the word it does not give suggestions, but when I single tap it does. However when I select the correct word, it inserts it wherever the curser is (usually within the misspelt word) making me do double the work!
  • I'm one of those people who seriously dislike swype. Can't Stand it. Without the rest of the gingerbread features its probably not a significant enough improvement over swiftkey, but when it's coupled with the real gingerbread it'll be awesome.