[KEYBOARD][4.0+] NextApp Keyboard: AOSP-derived Keyboard with Arrow, Function Keys

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tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
The NextApp Keyboard is a derivative of the AOSP keyboard found in Android 4.4 KitKat, with added arrow keys and other special keys, and a slightly tweaked QWERTY layout that is closer to that of a PC Keyboard.

This keyboard is intended as an "everyday use" keyboard. While I'm a fan of "Hacker's Keyboard"'s full PC layout for serious hacking, its larger number of keys requires that individual keys be smaller, reducing accuracy. The AOSP keyboard and the various popular aftermarket keyboards, while having large enough keys, are lacking in quick access to fine cursor control abilities and developer features (some more than others).

The design goals of this keyboard are as follows:

1.) Maximize the size of key basic typing layout: top row contains only QWERTYUIOP and extends from one edge of the screen to the other (on phone-sized devices).
2.) Maximize screen area while typing.
3.) Provide quick access to full cursor control, function, control, and special keys.

nak_qwerty.png
nak_function.png


This keyboard includes a function key ("Fn") toward its lower left corner which can be used to access many additional keys typically found on a PC or Mac keyboard, including:

* Cursor Arrow Keys
* Page Up / Page Down
* Insert, Delete, Home, and End.
* Function F1-F12.
* Ctrl and Alt
* Tab
* Escape

Additionally the function keyboard mode includes twelve symbols found on a PC/Mac keyboard which are not accessible from the Android first-level symbol keyboard. They are included on the function keyboard such that you do not have to visit the second-level symbol keyboard to access them. This reduces the number of key-presses required to type these keys from three to two. This can be useful when writing technical documents or code.

The fundamental QWERTY keyboard layout has been very slightly tweaked to mimic that of a PC keyboard. Specifically, the size of the left shift key has been reduced such that the third row (ZXCVBNM) is no longer overly shifted to the right. The shift key is now a standard sized key. This modification only applies to phones (the AOSP keyboard already uses this layout for tablets).

A comparison of the main keyboard layouts of the NextApp keyboard (first image) vs. the stock AOSP on which it is based (second image):
nak_qwerty.png
aosp_zxcvbnm.png


And the standard PC typing keyboard layout, for comparison:
pc_layout.png


Google does not include the "gesture typing" feature in the AOSP keyboard, though they did modify the design of the AOSP keyboard significantly to accommodate it as a plugin. The gesture-typing functionality is packaged in a shared library which is distributed only to OEMs and via the Play Store. I've added a facility (in Settings) in the NextApp keyboard to accommodate such plugin libraries should you wish to install one. This feature will always be considered experimental.

This version of the keyboard is free to use. I will be adding it to the Play Store soon, but wanted to get feedback here first.

I may create an enhanced paid version with more features. The paid features might include some more advanced options in the "Fn" mode, more configruation/personalization, theming capabilities, and a couple of accuracy-related ideas I've been testing out.

This keyboard uses the same permissions as the AOSP keyboard, which is quite a number of them. The worrisome ones are of course the "read contacts"-related items. These are used by the autosuggest contact names feature (part of the AOSP keyboard).

Installation Instructions


Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nextapp.inputmethod.latin

Direct Download: http://android.nextapp.com/keyboard/r19/NAK_r19.apk

1.) Install the APK.
2.) Open your device's Settings menu, select "Language & Input".
3.) Check NextApp Keyboard.
4.) Tap the "Default" item and select NextApp Keyboard as the default.

This keyboard does NOT currently add a launcher icon that links to the automated setup, but that will likely change soon.

Thank you for any feedback, bug reports, and suggestions!
 
Last edited:

tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
Come on, if you have Note 3 just add an option to make it a 5 row keyboard, you have a lot of screen estate. A lot of us have numbers in their passwords :)

In portrait I agree, but in landscape I wish there were more space. One thing I did look into extensively was key height with various keyboards, and I think Google really nailed it with the default on the AOSP keyboard. I found that when I reduced basic key height (to add space for a 5th row while not killing screen real estate) my errors went up significantly. With keys of this size, on any 5"+ phone, I can quasi-touch type (with thumbs or index fingers) with the phone in landscape orientation.

While I wouldn't personally enable it, I 100% agree a number row and user-configurable key height should be options (optionally independently for portrait and landscape orientations).
 
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ch3ck3rs

Senior Member
Mar 17, 2013
92
16
nice work! question... my biggest gripe with the aosp/google keyboard is the fact that it doesn't predict or even correct spelling in any fields other than sms. example... if i'm typing into chrome it won't try to predict or suggest my next word. Any way this can be implemented to work the same way swiftkey does?
 
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lesiki

Senior Member
Oct 10, 2011
345
151
Frankfurt
Nice app, but I'd love to know if this is open source software.
The keyboard is a main part of the system and knows a lot of information about me. From my private text messages to my banking card password. I won't ever trust this information to a closed source keyboard.
 

awicks

Senior Member
Oct 6, 2009
120
7
It looks like a great keyboard and one that I will be testing out.

Where is it possible to get the gesture typing libraries from?

Thanks.

Andy
 

tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
To be honest, why would you need the functions keys on an android device?

The actual F1-F12 keys are pretty unimportant, and I'm leaning toward making them available via a single, possibly double-wide "Function" key that pops up F1-F12 when pressed. They take up a lot of space that could be used by more important keys (e.g. "word left" and "word right" that fire Ctrl+Left and Ctrl+Right").

F1-F12 can be useful with remote desktop/VNC apps, but those apps tend to already have the ability to easily send those keys built-in.
 
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retiredtrebor

Senior Member
Dec 30, 2012
251
54
Sisterdale, Tx
Just downloaded this app, haven't actually used it yet. However, I noticed that in the screen shots there is a comma to the left of the space bar. I have a microphone looking symbol, no comma. Would that be because speech to text (or something like that) is enabled on the phone?
 

tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
Just downloaded this app, haven't actually used it yet. However, I noticed that in the screen shots there is a comma to the left of the space bar. I have a microphone looking symbol, no comma. Would that be because speech to text (or something like that) is enabled on the phone?

The keyboard retains the option of a voice input key (and it's on by default). Just make sure your Google Search application is up-to-date (via Play Store). The Mic key will appear where the comma key is.
 

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  • 44
    The NextApp Keyboard is a derivative of the AOSP keyboard found in Android 4.4 KitKat, with added arrow keys and other special keys, and a slightly tweaked QWERTY layout that is closer to that of a PC Keyboard.

    This keyboard is intended as an "everyday use" keyboard. While I'm a fan of "Hacker's Keyboard"'s full PC layout for serious hacking, its larger number of keys requires that individual keys be smaller, reducing accuracy. The AOSP keyboard and the various popular aftermarket keyboards, while having large enough keys, are lacking in quick access to fine cursor control abilities and developer features (some more than others).

    The design goals of this keyboard are as follows:

    1.) Maximize the size of key basic typing layout: top row contains only QWERTYUIOP and extends from one edge of the screen to the other (on phone-sized devices).
    2.) Maximize screen area while typing.
    3.) Provide quick access to full cursor control, function, control, and special keys.

    nak_qwerty.png
    nak_function.png


    This keyboard includes a function key ("Fn") toward its lower left corner which can be used to access many additional keys typically found on a PC or Mac keyboard, including:

    * Cursor Arrow Keys
    * Page Up / Page Down
    * Insert, Delete, Home, and End.
    * Function F1-F12.
    * Ctrl and Alt
    * Tab
    * Escape

    Additionally the function keyboard mode includes twelve symbols found on a PC/Mac keyboard which are not accessible from the Android first-level symbol keyboard. They are included on the function keyboard such that you do not have to visit the second-level symbol keyboard to access them. This reduces the number of key-presses required to type these keys from three to two. This can be useful when writing technical documents or code.

    The fundamental QWERTY keyboard layout has been very slightly tweaked to mimic that of a PC keyboard. Specifically, the size of the left shift key has been reduced such that the third row (ZXCVBNM) is no longer overly shifted to the right. The shift key is now a standard sized key. This modification only applies to phones (the AOSP keyboard already uses this layout for tablets).

    A comparison of the main keyboard layouts of the NextApp keyboard (first image) vs. the stock AOSP on which it is based (second image):
    nak_qwerty.png
    aosp_zxcvbnm.png


    And the standard PC typing keyboard layout, for comparison:
    pc_layout.png


    Google does not include the "gesture typing" feature in the AOSP keyboard, though they did modify the design of the AOSP keyboard significantly to accommodate it as a plugin. The gesture-typing functionality is packaged in a shared library which is distributed only to OEMs and via the Play Store. I've added a facility (in Settings) in the NextApp keyboard to accommodate such plugin libraries should you wish to install one. This feature will always be considered experimental.

    This version of the keyboard is free to use. I will be adding it to the Play Store soon, but wanted to get feedback here first.

    I may create an enhanced paid version with more features. The paid features might include some more advanced options in the "Fn" mode, more configruation/personalization, theming capabilities, and a couple of accuracy-related ideas I've been testing out.

    This keyboard uses the same permissions as the AOSP keyboard, which is quite a number of them. The worrisome ones are of course the "read contacts"-related items. These are used by the autosuggest contact names feature (part of the AOSP keyboard).

    Installation Instructions


    Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nextapp.inputmethod.latin

    Direct Download: http://android.nextapp.com/keyboard/r19/NAK_r19.apk

    1.) Install the APK.
    2.) Open your device's Settings menu, select "Language & Input".
    3.) Check NextApp Keyboard.
    4.) Tap the "Default" item and select NextApp Keyboard as the default.

    This keyboard does NOT currently add a launcher icon that links to the automated setup, but that will likely change soon.

    Thank you for any feedback, bug reports, and suggestions!
    8
    Additional screenshots:

    Portrait orientation:
    nak_qwerty_portrait.png
    nak_function_portrait.png


    Symbols layout:
    nak_symbol.png

    The symbols layout is slightly modified from stock, and I'm possibly looking at adding '<' and '>' (less-than and greater-than) keys here as well, and then removing them from the Function keyboard.
    7
    Expiration extension uploaded to playstore and also available here: http://android.nextapp.com/keyboard/r94/NAK_r94.apk
    6
    Updating this project after a long hiatus.

    This app is now entirely free, there will be no paid version. Themes are free, precision vibration feedback is free. The only "revenue" potential for this app are now a pair of links at the top of the settings to FX File Explorer and SystemPanel2. These are not ads, they are hardcoded links to those two apps. This app DOES NOT send/download anything over the internet, with the exception of dictionaries, and only then at the user's direct request.

    Additionally, the following enhancements have been made:
    • Long pressing the space bar sends a tab key. This can be disabled in the settings, if you'd prefer to have space-long-press be an input method switcher.
    • Added option to automatically switch to "PC Layout" when in landscape mode.
    • Renaming project to "Technical Keyboard".

    Updated version is here:
    http://android.nextapp.com/keyboard/r97/TechnicalKeyboard_r97.apk

    Will roll out to play store after additional testing.
    6
    @tliebeck just going to add my voice to the chorus, this has gone on long enough,please either unlock the beta for 6 months or make a donate version,I am happy to payfor the keyboard, as these expiry's are tedious to say the least
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