You might have a little under two weeks before the Nexus 4 is available to purchase, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a small taste of some of the features packed inside. The new Android 4.2 keyboard has leaked and can now be installed with little effort if you’re either rooted or using an Android phone that doesn’t utilize Google’s stock keyboard.
Many handsets today ship with their own, customized keyboards. This is a good thing if you’re looking to try out the new Android 4.2 keyboard since Google’s own keyboard is natively disabled. The only prerequisite for installing the Android 4.2 keyboard is that your phone needs to be running at least Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and up. If you fall into this category, all you need to do is download the keyboard and install it as you would any other sideloaded application. Installation on the LG Optimus G went fine and you should have luck on devices made from HTC, Samsung, and others. Download the keyboard here if you’re carrying a phone like this – Android 4.2 Keyboard apk
If you’re running stock Android, or a ROM that uses the stock Android keyboard, you have a little more work ahead of you before you can try out the new Jelly Bean keyboard. Instead of just installing the applications like any other, you’ll actually need to flash a zip file to successfully install the new keyboard. And just in case you’re not a fan of the new features (for whatever reason – you don’t have to use gesture typing, obviously) and just in case something goes wrong, you should definitely back up your phone via Nandroid. After that’s taken care of, simply flash the file in the recovery, reboot, and you should be on your way to the latest typing experience on Android. Of course, you’ll need to be rooted to go this route, so if you are, download the Android 4.2 keyboard flashable zip here.
In our small time with the keyboard, the experience is pretty solid. While some may not like gesture typing ala Swype, it’s a nice option to have baked in. We also like the fact that the predicted word follows your finger during the gesture, allowing you to see what word your typing and not have to look at the suggestion bar above the keyboard. However, you can turn off the gesture trail and word following your finger in the advanced setting of the keyboard.