Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Android For Absolute Beginners 2: The Keyboard

This is the second installment of my series on Android basics.

The first installment can be found at: http://robertmuth.blogspot.com/2013/07/android-for-absolute-beginners-1-home.html

This part discusses the Android keyboard.

The Android Keyboard

Tapping on a text input field will bring up the keyboard.

Usually, you will type a few characters and then hit the blue enter key (here labeled "Go") to accept the input. This will also make the keyboard disappear.

You can also press the back button. This will make the keyboard disappear without accepting the input, that means the content of text input field will remain as it was before.

Note: In the picture we have turned the device from the usual portrait mode to landscape mode. (You can switch modes by simply tilting the phone.) This will make the keyboard keys bigger at the expense of showing less of the actual app. If the keys are still too small for you, use a stylus to tap on the keys.

The Keyboard in Detail

Cursor
marks the place where the next keyboard character will be inserted
Clear
tapping here will clear all the text
Suggestions
Many apps will start showing suggestion after you type a few characters. Tapping on a suggestions will accept it as input and remove the keyboard from the screen
Backspace
erases the last character
Enter
accepts the text entered so far as input and remove the keyboard from the screen
More Keys
make other keys visible, e.g. numbers, capital letters, etc.

Different Flavors of Enter Keys

Depending on the circumstances, the keyboard may look slightly different. The picture shows the bottom row of 4 different incarnations of the Android keyboard. The main difference lies with the enter key which varies in color and labeling.

If the enter key is blue, like in first three incarnations, the keyboard will disappear after pressing the enter key. Usually, the corresponding text input field consists of just a single line.

If the text input field has several lines, the keyboard will look like the last incarnation. Pressing the enter key will not make the keyboard disappear but force a line break in the text input field.

Characters with Accents

Suppose you want to type an á or an ä. Simply tap the base character, a in this case, for a second or so. A menu like the one shown in the picture will pop up. Slide your finger to the desired character and let go.

Dictation: Voice Input

Often you can sidestep entering text altogether: Whenever Android shows you a microphone icon, you can dictate rather than type. Make sure you are in a reasonably quiet place. Think about what you want to dictate then take a breath and press the microphone key. When the device signals you speak, do so. The voice recognition on Android is actually quite good, so give this a try.