Whenever a new operating system is launched, intuitive minds immediately begin developing ways of porting some of the new features back to the majority running older software. Case in point: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean only launched yesterday, but already, one of its key components has been snatched away, bagged up, and ready to be shared with those running earlier versions of Android.
Android 4.2 will ship on the new Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 devices, but unless you’re running something released within the past couple of months (an S III, Nexus 7 and so on), your wait for Android 4.2 is likely to be quite a lengthy one. If you simply cannot wait, the treasures of the latest Android revision are already being plucked, and if you like the look of the gesture-based keyboard, you can now install it on your Android 4.0+ device.
Indeed, Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) only released last year, but even since then, Android has improved in leaps and bounds. 4.1 made things “buttery” smooth, and while 4.2 is by no means a revamp, it offers a bunch of novel features set to make the experience of using Google’s mobile OS even more pleasurable.
As somebody who likes to see substance to updates (i.e, usability improvements as opposed to aesthetic tweaks), I was more than impressed by the new keyboard. Google took a leaf from the book of a very popular app in Swype on adding “Gesture Typing” to Android’s repertoire, and while it’s perhaps not to everybody’s taste, the general vibe seems to be very positive indeed.
The port works fairly well on older devices running Android 4.0 or above, and if your device includes a UI add-on which disables the stock keyboard (TouchWiz, HTC Sense etc), all you need to do is install the APK doing the rounds on the Internet.
If you’re running AOSP or some kind of overlay which runs the stock Android keyboard, you will need to download a flashable ZIP. Of course, flashing the ZIP will naturally require root access, and make sure you back up the stock keyboard before you go messing around with things.
It’s not the full-on gesture keyboard experience, but it gives a flavor until you can get hold of Android 4.2 or a device running it.