I have Fairphone 2 running Fairphone Open OS, and I'm making a quixotic effort to avoid installing non-free (as in freedom) software on it and to optimize privacy.

I want swipe input, but I don't want to install Google Keyboard, (LatimeImeGoogle.apk) By default, the OS has AOSP keyboard. I've also installed the wonderfully code-friendly AnySoftKeyboard (which also has awesome themes) and Hacker's Keyboard from F-Droid, but though they are useful to me, they don't have swipe input.

I've read this post which makes me think I have to get the source and compile the keyboard. I don't know how to do this at the moment, but I'm prepared to learn. I tried just replacing the library (by cheating and taking the correct library from the Google apk) mentioned in the post, and nothing changed (if I delete the library the keyboard stops working completely, so clearly I am making a system change by replacing it - it just doesn't do what I want).

I would like any of the following, in order of preference

  1. a nice code-friendly FOSS keyboard with gesture input
  2. a simple* way to enable gesture input for AOSP
  3. confirmation that I do, in fact, need to build AOSP myself to do what I want
  4. any other relevant advice(!)

Obviously, I have root :)

*I have an Ubuntu system to play with on my laptop if it helps...

  • Installing Google keyboard won't affect your privacy, unless you enable the sync features. – xangua Jul 9 '16 at 16:33
  • Here's a FOSS keyboard: github.com/AnySoftKeyboard/AnySoftKeyboard – You'reAGitForNotUsingGit Oct 13 '16 at 23:02
  • You should be able to import that into Android Studio without too much of an ordeal. – You'reAGitForNotUsingGit Oct 13 '16 at 23:03
  • @AndroidDev that's the one I use - it's great and has beautiful themes in the add-on, but no gesture input – Zanna Oct 13 '16 at 23:03
  • @Zanna - Oh geez... completely missed that in your question. Lol. In that case, yeah, you'll probably have to build from AOSP source. – You'reAGitForNotUsingGit Oct 13 '16 at 23:05

The problem

The default AOSP keyboard does not ship with swipe. It will not appear in the settings. The easy (but awkward) reason is that Google considered this feature to be too "secret" or so to release it in the open source code and thus they ship it in a proprietary library.

The solution

If you want, you can push that library to your device after the ROM installation (and each update!). It is named libjni_latinimegoogle.so and needs to be put in /system/lib.

For me (Android 7.1, ARM) this lib was a really small (944 kB) and oldish (updated 2008) thing. (sha256sum: 442a2a8bfcb25489564bc9433a916fa4dc0dba9000fe6f6f03f5939b985091e6)

Detailed guide

  1. Download the correct Google Apps from http://opengapps.org/. (although I guess the lib may be the same for some versions, but well… just download the correct one)
  2. Now get into the ZIP, respectively extract it. In the Optional dir you'll find another archive swypelibs-lib-arm.tar.lz. Extract that and you'll get the libjni_latinimegoogle.so file.
  3. Now have your phone/device ready in recovery mode. Make sure to mount the /system partition in a writable way. In TWRP you have to go to "Mount" -> (if needed, uncheck) "mount /system in read-only" and then mount it by checking the box for "/system".
  4. Now just push to file to your phone (adb push /path/to/libjni_latinimegoogle.so /system/lib) and restart.

It should work!

OTA survival

I said you need to do this for each update. You can, however, also create a small OTA survival script, which backs up the file when the system is updated.

Here is my (currently, experimental) proposal:

# /system/addon.d/95-latinimegoogle.sh
# During an OS upgrade, this script backs up /system/lib/libjni_latinimegoogle.so,
# /system is formatted and reinstalled, then the file is restored.

. /tmp/backuptool.functions

list_files() {
cat <<EOF

case "$1" in
    list_files | while read FILE DUMMY; do
      backup_file $S/"$FILE"
    list_files | while read FILE REPLACEMENT; do
      [ -n "$REPLACEMENT" ] && R="$S/$REPLACEMENT"
      [ -f "$C/$S/$FILE" ] && restore_file $S/"$FILE" "$R"
    # Stub
    # Stub
    # Stub
    # Stub

Also available on GitHub: https://gist.github.com/rugk/a4c9fa11c5c031faf45602d6bf922a1c

  1. Just save that file, push it your device into the /system/addon.d dir (adb push 95-latinimegoogle.sh /system/addon.d). (Yet again, you have to make sure /system is mounted.)
  2. And make it executable: adb shell into your device, go to the dir via cd /system/addon.d and: chmod +x 95-latinimegoogle.sh.
  • 2
    The destination folder needs to be /system/lib64 if you‘re running on a ARM64. Took me a while to figure out since there‘s still a /system/lib around. Of course, the path has to be adjusted in the OTA survival script, too. – undko May 11 '18 at 22:15
  • 1
    Your instructions unfortunately don't seem to work when Magisk is installed: after a reboot, the file is gone again. Solution: after copying the file to your SD card, boot into recovery (TWRP), mount /system, and then use e.g. the built-in file manager (Aroma) to copy the file. After rebooting again, gesture typing is available. – Izzy Oct 6 '18 at 20:51
  • 1
    PS: "oldish (updated 2008) thing" – don't be fooled by that. The one for 8.1 has the same timestamp, but is larger (1.1M instead of 944k). Seems like the timestamp is always set to the fictive "birthdate" of Android. // "Download the correct Google Apps" – seems like the smalles package (pico) is sufficient for that. – Izzy Apr 19 '19 at 14:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.