Certainly, third party keyboards are a real testament to how customizable Android can be out of the box. Since KitKat's rollout, however, people have noticed that the default input method reverts to the default keyboard when updating a paid keyboard app. Worse still, the keyboard you updated actually ends up disabled.

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Symptoms

What's interesting about this bug is that it seems to only affect the paid flavor of these apps. Free versions should go unaffected. Normally, the bug follows a pattern similar to this:

  • You install a paid keyboard.
  • You set it up, use it, and love it.
  • One day you see that there's an update available in Google Play.
  • You perform the update.
  • KitKat disables the app after the update completes.
  • The next time you enter a text field, your device's default keyboard comes up rather than your method of choice.

Judging from our testing, this appears to affect any and all paid keyboard apps in all versions of KitKat.

Cause

For security purposes, data for paid Android applications is stored in a different way, and in a different area, than free apps. Though the root cause of this bug is unclear, logcats tell us that it could have something to do with the way that data is being stored on /mnt/asec and how the input system handles the temporary absence of the keyboard while being updated.

Workaround

Thankfully, this bug isn't a huge deal since all you really need to do is go back into your device's settings, re-enable the keyboard, then select it as your default keyboard again.

Closing

Sources tell us that Google has admitted to this being a bug in the Android code, and that the issue has been prioritized internally. Hopefully we'll see a fix for this minor annoyance in the next Android release. Lots of people use 3rd party keyboards on a daily basis, and not just the tech savvy. One can only imagine how many folks have experienced this issue and been left scratching their heads as to why their keyboard suddenly disappeared.