Comparison of Android keyboard apps’ popularity

To help prioritize my work on Firefox for Android’s keyboard and IME bugs, I created this list of popular Android keyboard apps. The Google Play Store does not divulge much information about other company’s apps, but it does reveal rough upper and lower bounds on the number of “Installs” over the last 30 days. For comparison, I have included numbers for popular Android browsers: Chrome, Dolphin, Firefox, and Opera.

I also compiled the number of 4 and 5 star ratings for these apps. I assume that people who like an app enough to write a review and give it 4 or 5 stars are likely to remain active users.

btw, this list does not include the Swype keyboard because it’s not available in the Play Store. Swype is only available bundled on a phone or from the company’s beta program.

Open questions:

  • Why is the GO Keyboard so popular? It supports many languages and themes, but I would imagine that a keyboard designed for the nuances of a particular language would be more popular.
  • Why does the Dolphin browser have so few beta users compared to Firefox and Opera? About 10% of Firefox and Opera users are using beta versions, but only 1% of Dolphin users.
  • Is there a fair way to aggregate numbers for apps that have multiple versions? Many apps have free and paid or stable and beta versions. These populations likely overlap. For example, many users are likely to have installed the trial version of an app before paying for it. Beta users may keep the stable version installed in case they are blocked by a beta bug.
Keyboard Installs (min) Installs (max) 4+5 Star Ratings
* Opera browser 10 M 50 M 219 K
* Opera Next browser 1 M 5 M 34 K
* Chrome browser 10 M 50 M 89 K
* Dolphin browser 10 M 50 M 793 K
* Dolphin Beta browser .1 M .5 M 8 K
* Firefox browser 10 M 50 M 95 K
* Firefox Beta browser 1 M 5 M 19 K
GO Keyboard 10 M 50 M 160 K
Google Korean IME 5 M 10 M 13 K
Smart Keyboard Trial 5 M 10 M 12 K
Smart Keyboard Pro .1 M .5 M 14 K
SlideIT Keyboard Trial 5 M 10 M 21 K
SlideIT Keyboard .5 M 1 M 13 K
A.I.type Keyboard Free 1 M 5 M 3 K
Google Japanese Input 1 M 5 M 6 K
Google Pinyin IME 1 M 5 M 23 K
Keyboard from Android 2.3 1 M 5 M 17 K
MultiLing Keyboard 1 M 5 M 11 K
Simeji Japanese Keyboard 1 M 5 M 15 K
SwiftKey 3 Keyboard 1 M 5 M 77 K
SwiftKey 3 Keyboard Free 1 M 5 M 23 K
TouchPal Keyboard 1 M 5 M 22 K
Hacker’s Keyboard .5 M 1 M 6 K
Perfect Keyboard .5 M 1 M 6 K
Siine Keyboard .5 M 1 M 3 K
OpenWnn Plus .1 M .5 M 1 K
Thumb Keyboard .1 M .5 M 5 K

Firefox 17 fixes Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro’s hardware keyboards

Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro and Xperia Mini Pro users, you have patiently endured with hardware keyboards that could not enter numbers or non-English characters. Good news! I just fixed these bugs (bug 772252 and bug 766317) in Aurora 17. I will uplift these fixes for next week’s refresh of Firefox Beta 16 in the Google Play store.

The problem was that Firefox didn’t remember to “lock” the ALT shift state after the ALT key was released. The workaround was to enter numbers and non-English characters using the virtual keyboard or to hold down ALT while pressing the other key.

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Bug 254139: 2004–2012

I just fixed bug 254139, which was originally opened in 2004!

By day, I work on Mozilla’s Firefox for Android team, but after hours I also hack on the Firefox desktop browser.

For eight years, Firefox has saved web pages using the original filename, typically something unhelpful like index.html. With today’s Nightly build, Firefox adopts the decade-old precedent set by other browsers and saves web pages using the human-friendly <title> tag!

For such a small change, this was a surprisingly controversial bug. Some people claimed they switched browsers because of this bug.

Firefox Text Input using Android IME

I’m a developer on Mozilla’s Firefox for Android team. One of my areas of focus is text input. Android input methods include virtual (on-screen) keyboards, hardware keyboards, hand-writing recognizers, and speech-to-text input. Any user control that enables text to be entered is an “Input Method Editor” (IME).

I gave a lightning talk about Fennec (Firefox for Android) and Android IME at a Mozilla work week in Toronto 2012. You can view the slides from my talk here: “Fennec Text Input using Android IME”

IME is a system abstraction that decouples text input from text processing. In theory, this separation allows users to combine input methods and applications that had not been previously tested together. But in practice, all software has bugs.

Fennec sits at the exciting intersection of bugs in Google’s Android framework, third-party developer’s virtual keyboard, and Gecko itself. If you find any bugs in Firefox for Android’s text input, please file a bug report with Bugzilla.

Special thanks to Joone Hur. I linked to Joone’s helpful chart describing WebKit key events (and bugs :) to illustrate the sequence of DOM key events fired during text input: “IME composition events are handled inconsistently in WebKit”.