Thanks to two generous and enterprising users over at xda-developers, many users running Jelly Bean or Kit Kat on their Android device can use the new-look Android L keyboard, as seen in our featured image. You have two different options to try this out, depending on whether you are a rooted user.
First, user dejunk created a flashable .zip file to use the keyboard. “Flashing” is a fancy word for downloading a file onto the operating system by downloading it through a hidden part of the file system called the recovery. If you aren’t a root user or otherwise able to access your recovery, this option probably won’t work for you. There’s just too much to learn to teach you here!
Knowing that a lot of people were missing out since they wouldn’t know how or wouldn’t be able to flash the .zip, xda user asdfzz packaged the new-look keyboard into an application file, a .apk. You can download it from Dev-Host.
If you haven’t installed an app from a .apk file before, it isn’t too difficult. Download the .apk to your device, either by downloading it from Dev-Host onto the device directly or otherwise sharing it to the device, such as through a cloud storage provider or email. Then, go to your settings, tap on the security options, and finally put a checkmark in the “unknown sources” box. This allows you to install apps from outside of the Play Store, such as the one you just downloaded.
If you already have the Google Keyboard installed from the Play Store, you’ll have to go there to uninstall it. You’re installing a new version of it, so it can’t be duplicated. Since it comes from the developer version of Android L, it won’t automatically recognize it as an update to the existing app.
From there, just go to your download .apk file and open it; it should automatically prompt you to approve its permissions and install it.
Once you’ve done that, we have a step-by-step screenshot tutorial to activate the new “material” look. You can go to the keyboard settings most easily from the keyboard itself. Press and hold on the comma key until you see the settings graphic pop up as in the picture below.
Scroll to the bottom of the following settings menu until you see “other options.” Go to “advanced settings,” as seen below.
Now that you’re in the advanced settings, look for the setting labeled “color scheme.” You’ll see either white or blue, depending on your Android version. Tap on that to get more options.
Now you should see three options: white, blue, and material. Choose material and you’ve got the good stuff!
It isn’t clear whether anything but the design has changed in this update, but there may be other behind-the-scenes improvements as well. Let us know what you think.