Jun 6, 2013
Google has released the official Android keyboard to Google Play as Google Keyboard. This allows users to install the keyboard available on Jelly Bean 4.2 with voice typing, predictions, and swipe-based typing, on any Android device running 4.0 or above. Given the number of custom ROMs that have often excluded the official Android keyboard in favor of a custom keyboard or an option like Swype, this means that the keyboard is available to all, similar to how Google Calendar is available to everyone because Google made it a separate app. This is part of a larger pattern of behavior by Google to separate key features of Android from OS updates, and to instead make them services that anyone can install, where possible. Google seemingly wants this to coexist with other options for keyboards as well.
This has the side effect of making potentially useless all the repackaged Android keyboard APKs on Google Play, which were handy for users on earlier versions or on those that didn’t bundle the official keyboard with the manufacturer’s customized ROM. But now, with Google offering up the keyboard on Google Play to everyone, this is no longer the case.