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Using XPrivacy, I noticed that the AOSP keyboard is loading once in a while.

The interesting thing is that I don't use the AOSP keyboard on that device. It came preinstalled, but I use a different keyboard.

Is it safe to uninstall the AOSP keyboard, or will that cause problems?

Details for that device: Stock KitKat ROM (rooted)

Bonus points (but certainly not required) if you can explain why the AOSP keyboard is still getting called. It's not set to autostart.

  • To play it safe: why not simply "freeze" it to find out? – Izzy Nov 25 '15 at 21:51
  • @Izzy That will probably be the first step, although I don't want that to mess up anything either. I figure if it's safe to uninstall it, it's safe to freeze it first! ;-) Also, even if frozen, I have a hunch it will still get loaded, similar to android.stackexchange.com/questions/129427/… – RockPaperLizard Nov 25 '15 at 21:55
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Yes it is safe to uninstall AOSP keyboard.

I kinda feel uncomfortable writing a one lined answer... So I'll explain things a bit more in detail.

Basically, you can remove any app from android system as far as its not used by critical system functions. I dont not know of any specific up to date list that contains all apps that can be removed. But consider it this way:

What can a keyboard app be required for? Can it be used by some other app? The answer is pretty simple. The keyboard app only inputs user data. So if you have alternative, its pretty safe to remove. Even if you dont put any keyboard app at all, your system will work just fine even then. It will just get a little trickier to input stuff.

Again, precaution is always better than cure. So keep that in mind and backup first ;)

For the second part:

Correct me if I am mistaken, but thats a general thing in android. If you are not running an application does not mean that system is not running it. There could always be background services which can trigger some activity from an application. Especially for something as common as input methods, they generally stay in memory so they can used as soon as required.

So to keep an app dead, you must make sure that no background service ever calls it.

  • Anything to back your claim? I vaguely remember someone else who thought so, and ended up unable to unlock the device (pin code or password), as the lockscreen was "fixed" on the pre-installed keyboard app. Didn't help that person much there was another keyboard app installed, the lockscreen ignored it. – Izzy Nov 25 '15 at 21:53
  • I dont really have a super plan to backup what I said, but maybe my explanation might help you a little. If you are worried, you can always backup your system partition first with recovery. And even if you mess up, its not that difficult to fix this especially using custom recovery. You just have to push the apk back to /system/app and set permissions. – Jaskaranbir Singh Nov 25 '15 at 21:55
  • Backup never hurts, right – and should be a precaution to take before modifying any system stuff. That should be part of your answer (and feel free to include my warning as well – it was a real case a while ago). – Izzy Nov 25 '15 at 21:56
  • @Izzy The lockscreen example you gave is concerning. Things like that can be hard to notice right off the bat (especially if you don't use a lockscreen now, but choose to use one later). Do you think that's the only situation that needs to be tested? – RockPaperLizard Nov 25 '15 at 21:59
  • @RockPaperLizard I'm not sure. E.g. I've never worked with device encryption, so I don't know whether that might ask for something in specific situations (except for the lockscreen). Currently I'm not aware of anything else: as soon as the screen is unlocked, you are able to switch IMEs if necessary. – Izzy Nov 25 '15 at 22:01
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Maybe.

If your device requires the AOSP keyboard for the lockscreen password, device encryption, or other such features (and one or more is enabled), then uninstalling it can lock you out of your device. Many devices will allow any input method to be used (some even let you select it), but not all.

Furthermore, if you uninstall the AOSP keyboard, it is possible that you will lose the spelling check feature in Android. A sure sign of this is if, under Language and input (in Settings), your device has a Spelling correction feature, and the only option within it is Android Spell Checker (AOSP). That feature then requires the AOSP keyboard to be installed.

Bonus points answer: If the AOSP keyboard is being called but is not set to autostart, then it is likely being called to perform spell checking functionality.

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