Android apps have had a rough history on Chromebooks ever since Google brought them to Chrome OS in 2016. From a lackluster app ecosystem to nasty bugs like the app scaling issue that nearly made it into Chrome OS 86 Stable, Google has attempted to create a compelling Android app experience for users to enjoy, but with little luck. With Chrome OS 87 due in a few more days, Google's operating system finds itself in another predicament that makes the typing experience in Android apps incredibly frustrating.

As spotted recently in the latest Chrome OS Beta channel, a keyboard input bug slows down the input speed drastically while typing in an Android app. The other day, I had to insert a block of text in a homework assignment using the Squid Android app. Around thirty seconds later, while typing, the keyboard responsiveness slowed down considerably. Thinking it was a Squid issue, I tested typing in the Telegram app, and it exhibited the same problem. Here's a quick look.

The keyboard response time is incredibly sluggish when typing in Telegram.

As you can see, the input is slow and falls way behind my actual typing speed. Instead of typing my content out, I have to constantly wait for the input to catch up before typing again, which often breaks my train of thought. In fact, the input lag is so awful that I find myself pulling out my phone to text in Telegram instead of using my Chromebook. So far, this bug has impacted four of my devices on Beta, Dev, and Canary channel, with no fix in sight.

Some of you might be wondering why I'm bringing this up if the problem doesn't appear on the Stable channel. Think of it this way: we have only three more days until Chrome OS 87 is due to release on the Stable channel (unless Google delays it, but that's unlikely with the lack of release blockers on the bug tracker). The clock is ticking, and there isn't much time left for Google to fix it before the big update rolls out.

Rebooting your Chromebook will temporarily fix the issue, but if you need to work properly in Android apps again, you'll have to powerwash (or factory reset) your Chromebook to switch back to the Stable channel. I'm not the only one running into this problem either — several users have messaged me saying that their typing experience is crippled. Not good, Google.

I hope the developers at Google will be able to fix this nasty keyboard input latency bug. As of now, typing inside Android apps is a frustrating ordeal, significantly impacting users who depend on Android apps. I've filed a bug report on the Chromium bug tracker, and I hope the developers will jump in and quickly address the issue before it reaches the Stable channel.

Google responds, publishes fix to the keyboard latency bug

Google responded to the keyboard latency with Android apps bug report yesterday, saying that a fix has been submitted to the Chromium repository:

"I've uploaded crrev.com/c/2563193 which should fix the issue. Sorry for the breakage. I'm going to request the merge to M-87 and M-88 once it lands and I confirm it's fixed on ToT."

This response comes following our coverage of this issue on Saturday. The bug report has since received a ReleaseBlock-Stable label and a priority zero rank, which essentially means it's critical enough to gate the release of a branch update (in this case, Chrome OS 87 Stable).

At the time of writing, the code has been cherrypicked to the 87 branch with 88 and 89 soon to follow, ending the story of this bug that's been plaguing the Beta and Dev channels for over a month. It's unclear if it and the other release-blocking bugs will interfere with the major Chrome OS 87 update coming tomorrow, but personally, I'm hoping Google will delay its release and use the extra time to ensure that OS 87 will be as polished as possible.