Apparently, segmenting your customized software into easily-updatable Play Store apps is a popular trend. HTC is the latest to get on board, presumably because the person who makes the keyboard work is tired of waiting on the whole Sense team to put an over-the-air firmware update together. HTC published extra language packs back in April, and now Sense users can get timely updates for the keyboard as well.

wm_Screenshot_2014-07-22-12-01-07 wm_Screenshot_2014-07-22-12-00-55 wm_Screenshot_2014-07-22-12-01-30

You know the drill: this will only work on compatible HTC hardware, so don't even try it on other phones or tablets. I don't have much in the way of HTC history connected to the Play Store, but I'm guessing that the keyboard app is only for phones that are on the current update bandwagon, which means the One family (2013 and forward), the latest entries in the Desire line, and perhaps a few high-end handsets from just before. Users may see the app appear on their phones automatically.

HTC is showing off an Asian input option (Chinese, I'm guessing, but I could be wrong) in the Play Store, but don't worry, Arabic, Cyrillic, and various other alphabetical characters are in there as well, at least if you've got the aforesaid language packs. Or you could just use Google's keyboard and not worry about it.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Asovse1

    HOXL reporting in here. Not compatible with my device. You're probably right in guessing 2013+.

    • Guest

      I think it's only for HTC....
      Not compatible with my Nexus 5 too....

      • tmcb82

        HOXL = HTC One X Lite..... I believe.

        • alwin006

          HTC One XL (Qualcomm + 4G variant of HTC One X)

  • WhoaManWtF

    It doesn't look very good from the screens you posted, I much prefer the google keyboard or the LG one.

  • Enrico Sacchetti

    You guessed right. That there is the Chinese Zhuyin input method, which is popular in Taiwan - and fitting due to HTC being Taiwanese.

  • Anthony Tyson

    This is how it needs to be. Oems need to start using stock android and customize via apps only. Leave the actual system alone. Make a sense launcher. Make a touchwiz launcher. Put it in the play store for your devices only. This can end "fragmentation" and absolutely allow for quicker updates.

    • Wololo

      That'd be nice, but an app can't integrate in the OS as much as TouchWiz or Sense.

      • Anthony Tyson

        Why does it need to?? A keyboard is a keyboard. A camera is a camera. A launcher is a launcher. People use 3rd party apps exclusively for standard features all the time. It'd be no different.

        • someone755

          It's a different experience.
          I see why you'd like this, but it would take an additional WOW from choosing different phones. Also development forums would be much emptier.

          • Anthony Tyson

            Not really. The majority of consumers would never know the difference. From a consumer standpoint they see the homescreen as most important. Not the settings menu layout the overly cluttered notification shade. You could load up a phone with a touchwiz launcher Samsung keyboard and Samsung camera app and it would be the exact same to the average consumer. It would also be able to help with th "android is hard to use" paradigm that gets thrown around. Imagine if the settings menu was the same on all phones. There'd be no confusion on figuring things out from phone to phone. My friend hand me his note 3 or another his one m8 and I'm like where the hell is this option.

          • Crispin Swickard

            Plus the OEM could still preload all of its apps, and such as they do now. I think the OEMs would only go along with it if they could still retheme the whole system theme engine style. Even then it would be iffy. Things have been slowly improving, and hopefully the way the L release is being done is a big step in the right direction.

    • someone755

      "Sense Launcher"
      Yeah I remember back in the day when people tried porting that to other devices. Did not go well xD
      Also, "fragmentation" is bullshit by Apple which Google is solving way better than Apple.

      • retro is back
        • someone755

          I said back in the day when you couldn't even get the camera off a Sense device without porting the entire ROM xD
          Now it's much closer to what the op suggested, but it's still a long way to go. A way that, at least I, would not like to see anyone walk on.

      • vvtim

        ...what kind of fragmentation does Apple have?

        • biff98786

          Try running iOS 7 on an first gen iPad or 4th gen iPod Touch. That's right, you can't.

          When it happens to an Apple device, the Apple apologists claim it's due to end-of-life on their products. But when the numbers come out for Android each month showing OS distribution, the Apple fanatics scream "fragmentation!!1!!!1" because an EVO 3D that's still running Gingerbread hits those numbers.

          • vvtim

            That's not fragmentation. That's obsolescence.

          • biff98786

            Then please enlighten us: How much of the Android distribution numbers showing people still suing Froyo/Gingerbread/ICS is due to "obsolescence" ??

          • vvtim

            Just a quick Google search away and you'll see that most Android devices never see a second update. Apple devices get 2 full year updates. It's not rocket science.


          • biff98786

            Your article is 2 years old. Almost all Samsung and HTC devices released in the last 2 years have received Kit Kat (the latest OS). For example, we're up to the Galaxy S5 now, yet the S3 is still getting updated to KK. Google has made many changes since 2012 to combat slower updates in the form of PDKs, by running core OS functions via Play Store Services (which is updated monthly), etc.

            Why is it that an OG iPad running an outdated OS is considered "obsolescence" while you link an article showing that an HTC Incredible is behind on updates to prove "fragmentation" ? What's the difference?

          • vvtim

            The OG iPad hasn't been sold for over 3 years. It got two major updates to 5.x.

            High end Samsung and HTC devices are also NOT the majority of Android devices sold. That's a false dichotomy. Every Apple devices receives equal treatment.

          • biff98786

            Eh, I'm not sure I'm there with you on the number sold. There were 60 million iPhones sold in 2013. To Contrast, there were 40 million S3s sold. 40 million more S4s sold. HTC has been more quiet about their figures, but estimates were 30m in 2013 as well. That doesn't reconcile with the notion that all Android phones are cheap plastic crapware that will never get updated. On the contrary, most people are, indeed, buying the high-end Android premium phones which have been receiving updates for 2 years or more.

            I'm also still curious to my original question about when something crosses from "fragmented" to "obsolete".. because the sense I'm getting from you is that if Apple does it, it's the latter, whereas in Android's case it's almost certainly always the former.

          • vvtim

            You're again equating Android with HTC and Samsung. There are over 1 billion active Android users.

          • biff98786

            ...and the majority of them are running Samsung, HTC, LG, or Moto devices:


          • vvtim

            Those numbers don't align with Android activations (which would be at close to 450 million a year now):


            Most likely aren't accounting for China, India, and Africa in sales numbers.

            Regardless, fragmentation goes far beyond whether something is on the latest version -- CPU, GPU, screen size, RAM, sensors. When developers refer to fragmentation now, they are speaking of that. Google Play Services updating through the Play Store helped a lot with the platform fragmentation.

          • biff98786

            Fair enough on that point. One of Android greatest strength's (i.e. that it can be used on almost any device, which has contributed to its global dominance) is also one of its greatest weaknesses (differences in hardware, vendor skins slowing down updates, etc).

            My point is this: Go post in a support forum asking why your OG iPad doesn't have iOS7 and you'll be told it's because it was end-of-life'd. Now go post in that same forum about why your HTC Incredible hasn't received Kit Kat and you'll eventually be told "fragmentation". Both ecosystems aren't being held to the same standard.

          • Rafael Luik

            Psst EVO 3D received ICS (official) and KK (devs).

    • Adam Truelove

      The OEMs want control and to push their brand. They don't care about fragmentation or consumer choice. They feel the need to differentiate themselves, while not giving the consumer a choice to remove the differentiation. That's how you build a brand.

      • Anthony Tyson

        Sad truth.

      • Tay

        That's not necessarily a bad thing.. I prefer sense 6 all day over the stock look of Android kitkat..

        You can't really change much by a launcher.. Not as much as a skin.

        • Adam Truelove

          That could be solved by having Android support themes natively, which is something I wish Google would do. Then HTC could just have a Sense theme in the Play Store which would skin the whole OS.

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      how would OEMs introduce specific features then?

      • Anthony Tyson

        Through an app?

    • IrishSid

      You think Touchwiz and Sense are launchers? lol

      • Anthony Tyson

        You obviously don't understand what I was saying. lol

        • IrishSid

          Then you don't know what you're talking about lololollllllllllllll

          • Anthony Tyson

            Actually I do. Just like Google made the Google now launcher. HTC and Samsung can do the same to give the part of the phone people see most(the homescreen) a different feel while from other phones while not mucking up the OS.

          • IrishSid

            You are taking the piss now?

          • Anthony Tyson

            You are speaking the English now?

    • http://www.vrdwellersblog.com/ Miles Reiter

      I'd totally support a dual boot with stock option, but personally, I like Sense. I think it's aesthetically nicer than stock Android. That's just me, but I'd want full skinning. If the homepage and app drawer are sense I don't want to go into settings and suddenly experience Stock Android. If Google starts to let launcher apps totally reskin EVERYTHING. Then sure, that's a good option. But until then I don't want my phone to come with stock.

    • supremekizzle

      Sorry, but I much prefer LG's software for the G3. The first thing I always did to a new phone was put stock android on it, but not for the G3.

    • ThEGr33k

      Been saying this for so long it is daft!!!! Glad it is moving in that direction :D

  • ithehappy

    'You can just use Google Keyboard and not worry about it.......'

    How could one write Google Keyboard and not worry in the same sentence is beyond me!

    • ms

      I find the Google keyboard to be the best option out there. Do you disagree?

  • Chris

    I can't wait to not use this.

  • Justin Stevenson

    I have an HTC One M8, and I still prefer Google's keyboard.

    The Android L version just looks too good for me to use anything else

    • joser116

      I like the new L keyboard too. They just change the shape of the keys when pressed to circles instead of squares.

  • Sean Conover

    I use Swiftkey, so I'll just update to get it out of my "update" queue in the Play Store

  • Adrian

    "the latest entries in the Desire line"
    HAHAHA. HTC completely doesn't care about phones outside new "One" line. It's sad but true - they aren't releasing any OTA updates and their own play store apps are incompatible.
    I have HTC Desire 500 - released a year ago with 4.1(!). I'm sad that i am not even be able to install new Blinkfeed launcher (Disclaimer: Many devices outside HTC - for example Samsung and Nexus devices handle this) by any workaroud. There are not also any custom ROMs :(
    So i am mad when i hear that HTC is best because they will provide Android L to their devices. Their very few devices.

    • someone755

      Oh and who else (besides Sony) updates their sideline of phones?
      I don't see LG updating the L series, nor do I see Sammy update anything that isn't a GS phone.

      • Adrian

        OK, but this phone was released with already outdated Android version and should be updated to 4.2 or 4.3. In spite of all, HTC shouldn't be named as company who cares about updates. For example - Nokia should.

        • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

          If you wanted updates you shouldn't gotten an already outdated phone, for updates only buy flagships or nexus.

          • Adrian

            Now I know that next phone will be a Nexus device.

          • someone755

            Or pick something that will live forever with the community -- Oppos and now the 1+1 are becoming more popular, next to Nexus devices ofc xD

          • Adrian

            It's also not that easy. Community support is clear sometimes after not so short period of time after release. When i got Desire 500 it was something new and that was my fault. This phone is a damn good phone, but sadly - stucked od 4.1.2.
            And i forgot to add something - HTC pretends that this phone was never released and they doesn't provide any information about updates xD Since Dec 2013 they are saying "wait for official announcement"

          • someone755

            Well another tip for you -- don't buy a phone until there's strong support from the community.
            Exactly why I'm looking into getting a Nexus 4 right now, despite the official EOL.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Oh yeah, if he even MANAGES to get a 1+1 somehow

          • primalxconvoy

            How can you tell that it was outdated? In different countries, the release window differs. What might be "outdated" for you might be "brand new" somewhere else (and might even be renamed and slightly changed to convert the fact it's an older phone).

            That's what happened to me when I bought the Desire in Japan.

        • someone755

          Nokia is a completely different company, with a different OS on their phones. The comparison is not fair, although I do see your point.

    • More like…

      Problem: You bought a Desire and wanted updates.


      Well, ya live and you learn, right?

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        And then I remember about the days of Desire S and its last update to ICS

      • primalxconvoy

        Exactly. I bought the original Desire (when it was meant to be the flagship android device). It was the worst peice of hardware (save for an apple product) that I've ever bought. It was updated, what, once?

        After that, I updated it myself...into a Samsung.

        • godutch

          I still think my desire was one of the best phones ever, maybe you never got new android versions but it was good just out of the box. When I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy S2 it actually felt like a downgrade in many many ways....

    • Nomaan

      Its called desire for a reason xD

  • Sean Conover

    Nevermind. It literally just auto updated

  • http://www.standupforkids.org blackroseMD1

    Anyone tried this on the Google Play Edition Ones yet? Seems hit or miss which HTC apps are compatible with them. Sense TV? Yes. HTC Gallery? No.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    >HTC publishes its sense keyboard in play store

    >this will work only on HTC compatible hardware

    • Cesar

      Did you honestly expect anything else?

      • someone755

        He's being sarcastic in reply to all the people who are complaining this won't work on a non-HTC device.

        • Kevin

          No he wasn't.

          • someone755

            Does that mean I can't be? :P
            Really, I haven't seen a single complaint about this not running on devices other than HTC. That's where my sarcasm kicks in.
            Apologies though if there were people actually complaining...

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Well, yes? I mean, the BlinkFeed launcher is also meant to be only on HTC devices, yet we still can run it on Samsungs, Nexi, etc., not without a few workarounds thoughm but still

  • Aditya Shanbhag

    Hey guys can Android Launchers like Nova change the multitasking view?.I like the cards view in Android L but since I won't get the update for my phone i just wanted to know if launcher can change that view

  • blumpkinator

    incompatible with M8 GPE

  • Faisal Khan

    new iphone 6 is coming....

  • Nigel van Rijn

    Maybe a bad question, they say that the hardware should be compatible but i have a htc one x with cyanogenmod 11 M8, i'm guessing that the keyboard won't work because of the os, right?

    • jgarrido

      I have the same device on AT&T, but stock (no root), and I'm not able to install it either.

  • Faisal Khan
  • godutch

    it's a good keyboard, with smart suggestion but I hate how it always seems to suggest the plural or conjugated forms first, it could be so much better if it suggested the singular or unconjugated first.

  • David Li

    The HTC Clock is also there.

  • Florian Thiele

    What about an apk?

  • someone755

    Do you see the GNex losing on popularity?
    Yes, a lot of people have left, but the base is still strong :P