An iOS mystery: Where and when will Gboard not appear?

The fact that I own an Android phone has rarely been more obvious than when I use my iPad–and I try to “gesture type” as if I were using my smaller mobile device’s onscreen keyboard.

The arrival of iOS 8 and its support of third-party keyboards made tracing a path from letter to letter to enter text not just a pointless exercise but a possibility. And with iOS 9’s less buggy support, it’s become a less annoying possibility, but still not a sure thing.

Gboard app iconThat’s become clear to me since Google shipped its Gboard keyboard app in May and, after a satisfactory tryout, I made that free app the default keyboard on my iPad mini 4.

Most of the time, Gboard appears whenever I touch a text field. I can gesture-type with ease (except when I’m holding the tablet sideways), and I could season my prose with emojis and GIFs were I, you know, 20 years younger.

But Apple’s built-in keyboard keeps on surprising me by resurfacing on its own. To get a better sense of how often that happens, I tried taking notes on this behavior this week and reached three conclusions:

• The system works more often than I gave it credit for. The departures from the norm stick out, but keeping track of them made me realize how rare they are.

• In certain cases, the stock keyboard shows up because it’s supposed to. As an Apple tech-support note explains, iOS’s keyboard automatically takes over in secure data-entry fields like the password dialogs of the App Store and Amazon apps.

• In rare occasions, iOS does get confused about keyboards for no apparent reason. A tap of the address bar in Safari would sometimes invoke the stock keyboard instead of Gboard, while the Duolingo language-tutorial app proved itself capable of alternating between the iOS and Google keyboards in a single session.

It’s tempting to blame Apple, given the iffy quality of much of its software. But I can’t rule out this being Google’s fault. I mean, as good as Gboard is, I still had to do a copy-and-paste job from a Web site to enter the symbol that best captures my latest diagnosis of the situation:

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Weekly output: Facebook Home, Android updates, Joe Rospars, social media, smartphone keyboards, smartphone sounds

Monday was about as bad of a start to the workweek as I care to imagine; things have been better since then.

D News Facebook Home review4/15/2013: Facebook Home: Social Network Engulfs Android, Discovery News

I reviewed Facebook’s add-on software layer, as seen on the HTC First phone. I did not like it much–how could a company that generally gets the importance of security ship an app that bypasses the entire screen-lock function on Android?

4/19/2013: Yes, Android Updates Are A Mess. What Do We Do About That?, Disruptive Competition Project

The ACLU wants the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on wireless carriers that ship Android security updates late or not at all. Would it help if the FTC made examples of one or two of the worst offenders?

4/19/2013: Joe Rospars fireside chat and “Social media: What’s the next big thing?” panel, Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit

I helped kick off this one-day conference at Gannett’s Tysons Corner HQ with an onstage interview with Joe Rospars, chief digital strategist for the Obama campaign and co-founder of Blue State Digital (my schtick was to preface each question with one of the Obama campaign’s quirky e-mail subject headers, such as “Hey” or “We could risk losing everything”). That afternoon, I moderated a panel about upcoming shifts in social media with Vocus’s Brendon O’Donovan, New Media Strategies’ Gayle Weiswasser, the Pappas Group’s Lisa Byrne and Susan Ganeshan of newBrandAnalytics.

4/21/2013: Try these alternative keyboard options for your smartphone, USA Today

A reader’s seemingly simple question about physical versus virtual keyboards gave me an opportunity to cover the variety of keyboards available in Android; hearing a Samsung phone’s whistling alert in the Quiet Car on Amtrak reminded me of why it’s a good idea to change a phone’s ringtone and notification sounds from the defaults.

This week’s Sulia highlights: observing a brief outage for some Google accounts; notes on a minute or two of wearing Google Glass; my takeaways from an enlightening discussion about passwords and security; relating an apparently successful attempt to convince Google that “DCA” and “National Airport” are valid terms for the airport closest to D.C.