A System Wide Portrait Keyboard Comes To The Nokia N900

In my last post, I asked why couldn’t Nokia deliver a system wide portrait keyboard for the N900? In this post I am glad to tell you that the community has once again stood up to the challenge and produced a system wide portrait keyboard that can be used by any app automatically.

The ‘portrait-keyboard’ package by Robin Burchell and Frals is available in extras-devel and once installed, it replaces the inbuilt virtual keyboard and pops up in its place wherever you need to enter text be it Conversations, Notes, Web Browser and so on.

System Wide Portrait Keyboard Comes To The N900

It features a landscape mode (pictured above) as well as a portrait mode (pictured below). After installing the package, reboot the N900 to get this working.

System Wide Portrait Keyboard Comes To The N900

Known caveats:

  • No fast input. Multi-tap to enter a letter, it’s slow and *very* painful.
  • Changing orientation results in the text you’ve written so far being lost.
  • To use it, you’ll need to ‘killall hildon-input-method’ after installing the package (or reboot your n900)
  • It’s (a bit) painful to use in landscape mode.

Possible future directions (but this is by no means going to happen overnight, these are all quite difficult – feel free to pitch in and help):

  • Separate layout for landscape mode, for easier use
  • Fast, predictive input
  • Automatic capitalisation

This is a great start and eliminates the need of dedicated apps such as VertSMS (although it has a QWERTY layout as well). If you think you can contribute, talk to frals or w00t / w00t_ on #maemo, and see this. You can also follow this TMO thread for the latest. If you haven’t enabled extras-devel, here’s how to do it, the usual warning about software from extras-devel applies.

I can’t wait for the next update. Awesome work.

4 thoughts on “A System Wide Portrait Keyboard Comes To The Nokia N900”

  1. Here are some points to take into consideration to make this a successful and essential addition for all N900 owners:
    1. Implementation of Nokia’s T9 for predictive text input (considering it’s a Nokia device) and integration of the already-installed dictionary would make this a MUST HAVE. I used a Nokia phone for as long as i can remember and the T9 is excellent on it.

    2. There should also be an option to switch back and forth between the regular keyboard and the portrait keyboard. Perhaps automatic activation of the portrait keyboard according to the movement of the accelerometer due to the phone being in an upright position.

    I am very excited to finally see this! Keep up the good work and watch how this is going to BOOM in the application repository!

    -The Internet

  2. T9 on Nokias is awful, many silly bugs and senselessly clings to the legacy key combinations.. This is an opportunity to take all the good bits from Nokia’s T9 adn merge it with the good bits from Sony’s predictive input, to make a predictive text system that is actually good..

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