27
Mar
kitkat

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.

bug_watch

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.

Shawn De Cesari
Shawn is a web developer by day and XDA's resident archivist for Nexus and Google Play Edition device OTA updates by night. When not immersing himself in code or Android, he can be found hunting down antique signs, taking road trips, listening to music, or playing video games. His phone of choice is a Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
  • http://www.mscha.nl/ Michael Schaap

    SwiftKey has apparently been aware of this bug for quite a while, as after the last few upgrades, it has guided me through the process of re-enebling and re-defaulting it.

    • ThomasMoneyhon

      not to mention a similar bug was found in jellybean where if you reboot with a paid keyboard it would return to the default. Google however fixed that.

  • http://www.ronakg.com/ Ronak Gandhi

    This has bagged me so much. I've got so many calls from friends and relatives about their SwiftKey not working.

    Hopefully this gets fixed in next maintenance release.

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    At least if it happens consistently people will recognise that it always happens after the keyboard has been updated.

  • cabbieBot

    This behavior has been quite annoying with Swiftkey...I wasn't sure who was to blame for this one, just glad it'll be fixed.

  • n_a_v

    I've been wondering why I had to select SwiftKey after every update

  • remister

    I guess I am glad that I only use the defaulted keyboard.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    I can't believe something as serious from the user confusion point of view as this wasn't fixed in 4.4.1/2 because it's been present since 4.4.

    • zxo0oxz

      This happens to me all the time. Can't believe I never thought of it as a bug. Heh.

      • Brian Walker

        Yeah, me too. I actually have been blaming SwiftKey this whole time. If I only knew!

        • DirkBelig

          Me, too. I was thinking, "Why the heck is SwiftKey breaking their keyboard update after update?"

          At least this falls under the "nuisance" not "problem" category.

        • dylan84

          Ha. Yeah I have been in the same boat. Always thought it was something wrong with Swiftkey. Glad to see it is actually an Android bug and that others have been experiencing it as well!

        • godutch

          I thought it was an android security feature

    • xda_emanuel

      Buddy there's a bug on the nexus 4 wich drop the wifi connection in deep sleep mode since almost 2 years. Im not surprised.

      • duck hairs

        Not on mine?

        • jonzey231

          Or mine...

      • Brian Walker

        Mine drops WiFi right in the middle of using it all the time. Drives me nuts.

    • Dominick White

      Good to know, i thought it was something I did to mess up my phone, since I been flashing so many different kitkat roms on my Dna

  • DoubleP90

    I'm a folk that experienced this issue and I was left scratching my head wondering why my keyboard was reverting to original.

    I've always thought it was a bug with swiftkey

  • Stephen Bain

    Never had this problem with Swype :)

    • andy_o

      Yeah, that's weird. I have Swype all along in the N5 and never had this problem, but I have seen people complain about it in the Swype boards IIRC.

      • ltredbeard

        I have Swype on the N5 as well and have had this happen a few times.

        I also have the default keyboard disabled, so it always makes for a good time.

    • Dave Molina

      Swype hasn't had an update since Jan 3, so it's probably why none of us who use it has seen this problem.

      • andy_o

        I do remember people complaining about this at the forums, and not getting it so didn't pay much attention to the whole thing.

  • Jeffrey Heesch

    Hopefully they'll also fix the "Choose input method" notification icon being ever present while using a third party keyboard.

    • Simon Belmont

      That's an issue? That's been the normal behavior since ICS, I think (unless you mean it sticks around even when the keyboard isn't open).

      I also think there's an option in the language input section of Settings to turn that notification off. It never bothered me, really, because it was like an extra little indication that the keyboard had the focus and it gave me a fast shortcut on the off chance I wanted to switch keyboards on the fly (and it disappears when the keyboard is closed).

      • Jeffrey Heesch

        Not a big one, but once it catches my eye, it's hard to not notice it. Perhaps on a different OEM skin of Android you can turn off the notification, but if that option exists on Nexus devices, it's buried somewhere I can't find.

        And, again, it's not a huge complaint. I just wish it wouldn't do that.

        P.S. How's Dracula these days?

      • Jeffrey Heesch

        Not a big one, but once it catches my eye, it's hard to not notice it. Perhaps on a different OEM skin of Android you can turn off the notification, but if that option exists on Nexus devices, it's buried somewhere I can't find.

        And, again, it's not a huge complaint. I just wish it wouldn't do that.

        P.S. How's Dracula these days?

  • dan

    Yeah I have suffered from these multiple time with SwiftKey. I thought that it was a normal thing :)

  • Cody Curry

    I could see doing this if the update changes permissions, but it's pretty annoying to deal with on a regular basis.

  • KoRRo

    i tink thi is some kind of security feature since the keyboard can read everything you type and an update can change the keyboard privacy policy and behaviour.

    • cabbieBot

      That thought crossed my mind as well.

  • Eduardo

    Well it happened to me several times, even before updating Swiftkey. I had to disable default keyboard.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

      Nice to know but most phones you can't disable the default though.

  • Simon Belmont

    Yeah! This has been annoying me since I got my day one Nexus 5 in early November (and subsequently on my 2012 Nexus 7 after the KitKat update) with SwiftKey.

    I always just said "ho hum" and re-enabled SwiftKey. I actually thought it was a problem with SwiftKey. I'm so terrible for doubting you, SwiftKey. SORRY!

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

    This is nothing. I'm dealing with another bug which keeps GPS / WiFi running in the background even after I turn them off from QuickSettings toggle / settings.

    • David Spivey
      • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

        Yes, I'm sure. I'm aware of all the features KitKat brought. I have that "wifi always scanning" feature disabled. Still, this happens. For example, say I open maps app and turn on GPS. After 10 minutes, I close maps and turn off GPS. Quick setting tile now says it is turned off. Location settings says it is turned off. But if I look at my battery stat 10 hours later, maps will show up as the top consumer with 10 hours GPS use and on the battery use my device graph (where u can see wifi, data, GPS, awake etc state), it shows that GPS was on the entire time.

        Here's the bug in Android bug tracker - https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=64998

        FYI, this isn't a constant issue and happens sporadically. Sometimes everything works fine, sometimes this issue happens.

        • David Spivey

          I'm sorry to hear that. Although I understand you want this issue solved by Google, I wonder if there may be a root app that can fix this for you...

  • black

    I though this was happening because of the CM nightlies. After I update SwiftKey, the keyboard doesn't show up and the back button stops working. Happened twice, and luckily I noticed what was going on the second time.

  • Ryan Callihan

    Happened to me just the other day when I bought Fleksy. I thought it was just an error on Fleksy's part.

  • J_Pod

    My wife and I have a pair of HTC Ones 2013 on 4.4.2 and SwiftKey has never given me a problem, but Swype on my wife's doesn't survive a reboot, it always resets to the sense 5.5 keyboard.

  • syxbit

    I'm on an N5, and haven't noticed most of these bugs, but seeing just how many [bug-watch] posts there are for 4.4.2 is really surprising.
    I think Google needs to switch to yearly releases, where they'll have more time for QA.

    • DirkBelig

      Because that's what Apple does. Oh, wait....

      • syxbit

        What does that have to do with anything?
        Clearly Google needs more QA, or more frequent bugfix-only releases.

        • DirkBelig

          Which is it? Google needs to do one update a year or a bunch of bug-fix updates? 4.4.2 was a bugfix update, but now they're supposed to just do yearly updates?

          Apple recently released their 7th update for iOS 7 which came out only 6 months ago. Should they stick to yearly releases or are they OK for doing a bunch of bug fixes?

          • syxbit

            I clearly stated that there are 2 potential (though different) solutions to the problem.

            Any decent software engineer knows about the pros and cons of Agile and CD vs waterfall.

  • Stuart Anderson

    Also effects paid live wallpaper apps (beautiful wallpaper reverts to stock nexus wallpaper when paid version of beautiful widgets gets updated)

  • xnifex

    is this the reason that paid apps also remove the icon from the home screen after updating? reddit news always has the icon removed when i update it.

    • Gus70

      I was going to say the same thing. It is annoying to have my home screen icons disappear all the time.

  • Andy

    I thought it was an intended behavior for security reason

  • Vetal

    If you have 2 other keyboards checked like SwiftKey and swipe you will be able to uncheck the stock keyboard you won't have this problem any more. Although some time swiftkey will take an second to launch probably due to the bug.

  • skater

    I will take this over what use to happen with paid keyboards having it go back to default everything you restarted or rebooted your device

    • skater

      everytime* ^^

  • Jeffrey Tarman

    if you're smart enough to purchase and use a 3rd party keyboard, you better be smart enough to re-enable it otherwise get an iPhone

  • saleem

    Good thing I'm still running 4.2.2 on my Nexus 4. Much more bug free !

  • EowynCarter

    Ah ! So it's actually a KitKat bug.

  • primalxconvoy

    What with the stunted exsd card file management and this, I get the impression that KitKat is something to avoid like the plague.

  • Göran Sävström

    Ohh... and here I was blaming Omnirom when that happened to me last week.
    - Sorry about that.

  • DW Duck

    I use Kii keyboard, but haven't had a update since 4.4.2... week have to see who gets an host out first Google or Kii

  • thehighyeast

    I can't be 100% until I next update SwiftKey, but I think disabling Google Keyboard might solve this one too

  • RockAndRock

    I thought it was normal... lol

  • ather akber

    and i thought swiftkey was acting up ;/

  • Randroid

    I noticed this a while ago, as Swiftkey has updated numerous times since I updated to 4.4. It is definitely annoying, and I could see it being a major confusion point for normal users - especially if it disables as a result of an auto update (since auto update *is* the default option now)

  • Sorian

    Like most here, never really gave it much thought since it is an easy fix to re-enable it.

  • http://www.davinp.com/ Davin Peterson

    I noticed that the SwiftKey I installed hasn't come up anymore or that it doesn't asks which keyboard to use like it used to. My Nexus 7 just displays the built in Google Keyboard

  • Lorbas

    I never had that problem. But then, when I installed SwiftKey I froze or deleted the "regular" keyboard. So there wasn't anything the system could go back to. I was rooted but I believe it works on unrooted devices too. I have my stock keyboard disabled and SwiftKey never deactivates.

    • Fellwalker

      Sounds good. How do you freeze the Google keyboard so it doesn't start (and the Google Korean keyboard and pinyin input - both of which I had no choice over)?

  • http://blog.tonysarju.com/ Infowerx

    This has been happening for so long now. I never could figure out why. Good to know it's an actual bug. Happens on my Nexus 5 and both my Wife and my own Nexus 7's.

  • Vardan Nazaretyan

    I have my Nexus 5 since 8th January. Installed my purchased Swype on the same day. Never had this issue.

  • Fifth313ment

    KitKat Blows! Between the battery bug, WiFi calling and many others on my Note 3 it's a joke.

  • Magnus Dahl Hegge

    Never had this problem with Swiftkey on my Galaxy S3 running ParanoidAndroid 4. (Android 4.4.2) Strange...

  • MrNinjaPanda

    The first time this happened to me I was like, After this update Swiftkey looks more like Google keyboard.

  • Myrddin Emrys

    I thought this was just a problem with SwiftKey, and I was grumpy... knowing it is Google I should blame is good for SwiftKey, but bad for expecting a fast resolution.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

    I always thought it was just a security feature. Oh well hope they fix it soon.

  • Fellwalker

    That explains it. Thanks. What it has done is remind me just now bad the default keyboard actually is, and makes me accept some of the miniscule things I'd like to be better with my paid for keyboard.

  • Richard Markert

    Are we 100% sure this is a bug?

  • Olly

    this happens to all my paid apps not just keyboard related ones, had to re-flash my phone and avoid doing the updated. Are Google going ot fix this?
    HTC One with Google Play Addition Rom 4.2

  • Robert Christopulos

    I've had several paid apps that have crashed under Kit Kat, then, on trying to correct the situation, by uninstalling and reinstalling, been unable to do so. These include "T Swipe Pro","Rom Toolbox Pro", "Titanium Backup Pro", "Avast", etc.. These issues may also be related to the version of KitKat that I'm using. This is an unofficial CyanogenMod 11 for the Xoom.

  • Ryan

    Come on Google how F'ing stupid are you. Swipe was a stock app not even an add on. Get it fixed TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • changher

    I installed KitKat this morning and now can't use Dragon Swype....I've uninstalled/reinstalled - nothing works. Razor Maxx...any suggestions. There aren't any options to "uncheck" google keyboard - ugh!