Android, KeyPro and Bluetooth keyboards

by Brent on January 5, 2010 · 106 comments

by Brent on January 5, 2010 · 106 comments

Last week I wrote about my exposure to the KeyPro drivers for Bluetooth keyboards and Android. Since that time, I have continued to play with this concept, and KeyPro has released (at least) two driver upgrades, which you can download from the Android Market. The current version, which I loaded today, is 1.06.08. And it just keeps getting better. I have to be honest. I really struggled to get this working. But, when I did, I discovered that it is drop dead simple and it works wonderfully.

The process that worked for me

  1. Pair your Android phone with a supported SPP compliant Bluetooth keyboard like you would with any BT device. I used ’0000′ as the passkey. It will show as ‘Paired. Not Connected.’
  2. Open the KeyPro app you have installed on your phone from the Market. Make sure that your BT keyboard is still showing active. My Freedom Universal Keyboard II has a slowly blinking blue light. If you get distracted or wait too long, it will timeout and go to sleep. Just switch it off and back on for this next part.
  3. In the KeyPro app, chose Settings and choose your Keyboard model. Then press the Scan button next to the Keyboard Address field. It will give you a blank screen. Hit the menu key and choose Discovery. In just a bit, it will come back with your Keyboard name and its hardware address. Press that field and it will load it for you in the previous screen.
  4. Set KeyPress for repeating. I used 25 for Repeat Rate and 0.5 for Repeat Delay. You can play with this and adjust for what works for you.
  5. At first, I chose KeyPress Sound Emulation. Do you really want your Droid to make a horrible beep each and every time you press a key? I quickly disabled this one.
  6. I also choose to enable Connect/Disconnect Notify and Backlight Auto-On.
  7. Save. Please! I kept skipping this and couldn’t figure out why everything was always reset as at the beginning.

When you go back to the main KeyPro screen, you will see ‘Connecting’ in the lower left-hand corner. This is the point where I could go no further. I could not get it to connect. After fussing around with this for quite a long time, I switched the Keyboard off. Then I thought “Maybe just one more try”.  I switched it back on and about 1 second later it changed to “Connected”!

Now, I just wait to switch the keyboard on until all else is ready and boom!  It connects straight-away every time.

Authorizing the Keyboard in Android

Now, there are a couple of additional steps you need to do to authorize the keyboard in Android settings, and then long-press any text entry field and choose ‘KeyPro’ as the entry method, but those are fully explained in the manual you should download from the KeyPro website. They show an alternate method for pairing the keyboard, but that never worked for me. Try it, maybe it will work for you.

So, you might ask, how is it to use a larger keyboard with the Android phone? Wonderful! Typing was very fast and natural and actually, the Freedom Universal keyboard feels better than the keyboard on my Lenovo S-10 netbook, so feel free to make hay! With each new release of the keyboard, there are changes to key assignments that emulate key presses on the Android. Each try is getting better and better. I encourage you to play with them. If you already have a Bluetooth keyboard that supports the SPP standard, I highly encourage you to give this driver a shot. It works great and it was very easy for me to spend the $9.95 to license after I got it working.

Keyboard Suggestion

If you don’t yet have a Bluetooth keyboard, I recommend that you take a look at the newly released Freedom Pro Keyboard. It is made specifically to use with Smartphones and has dedicated keys to enable you to do everything you can do with your phone on the keyboard:

  • 6 Dedicated keys to: Answer Call, End/Reject call, Open Messages/email, Open Address book, Open task and Open Calendar.
  • 12 user defined quick launch keys.
  • Control and function keys allowing complete control of your mobile device from the keyboard.

It currently supports HID for Symbian and Windows Mobile and SPP for Blackberry and Android. BTW, Freedom promises drivers for the Android platform later in 2010. But you can use it today with the KeyPro drivers now available. You can currently purchase the KeyPro Bluetooth keyboard on Amazon.com for less than $100, which is a bit better than the £90 on the Freedom website. If you give it a go, let us know how it works for you. Enjoy!

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  • Miles

    Agreed! Especially knowing that the ONLY thing that the Android platform needs is a simple HID module to be included with the bluez implemented in Android’s Linux distribution image. I’ve seen people successfully root their phone and add HID keyboard support–I just prefer not to go that route, myself. (Paranoid!). Seems like a VERY simple thing for Google to immediately fix in Android. Heck, my Nokia N800 supports HID profile keyboards flawlessly.

    • nukwar

      My HTC EVO 4G has the following:
      firmware: 2.1-update1
      Kernel version: 2.6.29-a2443432
      I am using the 2.0 drivers form http://www.otadrivers.com

      As is said in my first posting, I can pair, and connect but if I turn off the keyboard after 5 mins it will not auto reconnect. If the keyboard times out because of no use it will not auto reconnect. I have to power down the phone and keyboard and then it will connect but I have to go to the “Freedom Pro Keyboard” and press on “Connect” and wait until it changes to disconnected and then it works.

      I have been able to have long session using the keyboard while using sms or sending an email but once it times out or I do not use the keyboard it disconnects. Sad but i feel the this issue will be solved.

      Thanks for listening Paul.

  • nukwar

    I am typing this comment with my HTC evo 4G and using the freedom pro keyboard.
    I have had a reconnectiing issue. I am using the 2.0 freedom drivers.

    If you turn off the keyboard it is supposed to reconnect automaticlly but it does not.
    I have to shut off the keyboard and shut off the phone and restart from the “Connect“ instructions in the “Language & Keyboard“/“Freedom Pro Keyboard“ in the “activating the drivers and connection the keyboard“ of the installation process.

    The other issue is that the keyboard or the phone times out and you have to go througthe
    above process to get it to reconnect.

    As I said I have used the freedom pro keyboard to type this out and it has not crashed yet.

    • http://www.freedominput.com Paul Bowles – Freedom Input

      @Nukwar – Thanks for the information. Can you please give me the firmware and kernal version numbers so we can investigate the reconnection problem you are experiencing.

      The keyboard does auto shut down after around 10 minutes of in activity (to save battery power in case you put it away without switching it off). Normally not a big issue if the auto reconnection is working as you just switch it off and on and it reconnects. Can see how it would be annoying if your auto reconnect is not working though so apologies for this.

      Stupid point but have to double check :) . Can you make sure that auto reconnect is enabled within the driver settings.

      • nukwar

        As is said in my first posting, I can pair, and connect but if I turn off the keyboard after 5 mins it will not auto reconnect. If the keyboard times out because of no use it will not auto reconnect. I have to power down the phone and keyboard and then it will connect but I have to go to the “Freedom Pro Keyboard” and press on “Connect” and wait until it changes to disconnected and then it works.

        I have been able to have long session using the keyboard while using sms or sending an email but once it times out or I do not use the keyboard it disconnects. Sad but i feel that this issue will be solved.

        Thanks for listening Paul.

      • nukwar

        My HTC EVO 4G has the following:
        firmware: 2.1-update1
        Kernel version: 2.6.29-a2443432
        I am using the 2.0 drivers form http://www.otadrivers.com

        • http://www.freedominput.com Paul Bowles – Freedom Input

          @Nukwar Thanks for the info. Passing this on to our developers now. I haven’t seen anyone else come up with this problem yet but we will take a look and see if we can find out what is stopping the auto reconnect from working on your device.

          • nukwar

            Paul
            I noticed that a new driver was available from Freedom, created on June 9. I have tried this diver and I have the same issue. The keyboard will not auto reconnect.
            I have to shut down the phone and keyboard in order for it to connect.

            My HTC EVO 4G has the following:
            firmware: 2.1-update1
            Kernel version: 2.6.29-a2443432
            Build # 1.32.651.6CL171253

          • nukwar

            Paul
            I have been dinking with the freedom pro keyboard and have found the following work around when it will not auto reconnect.

            6-21-2010 5:36 pm.

            Phone: HTC evo 4G
            Firmware: 2.1-update1
            Kernel: 2.6.29-a2443432

            Prior to this test I turned off the Freedom Pro keyboard (keyboard had been off for several hours). I turned on the keyboard to see if it would auto reconnect but it did not. I left the keyboard on. I held down the power button on the phone. Went to the “phone options“ tapped on “ Airplane Mode“. Waited about 10 sec, Pressed the power button, went back to “phone option“ tapped on “Airplane Mode“. I went to a text message and tapped on “Tap to compose“ switched input to freedom pro keyboard and it auto reconnected.

            6-21-2010 7:01pm

            In this test I allowed the Freedom Pro keyboad to time out. Had to vacume and mop. Phone was left in “keyboard input mode“ British flag in upper right corner. I turned off keyboard and turned it back on but no auto reconnect. This time I went to: “All App“, tapped on “Wireless & Networks“, tapped on “Bluetooth“ to turn it off. Waited about 10 sec. Tapped on “Bluetooth“ to turn it back on again. Went to “Freedom Pro Keyboard“ and the keyboard auto reconnected. Disconnect was in place of Connect.

  • Brian

    I’m getting an “error 9″ when I’m trying to do the Discovery part of the instructions. HELP?

  • http://simplemobilereview.com Brent

    @Brian What phone, what OS version, and which drivers are you using?

  • Brian

    I’m using an HTC Evo phone with Android 2.1
    I’ve tried the OTA drivers first. I’ve gotten to the point where the keyboard is paired and even listed as connected, but typing doesn’t do anything.

    On the Keypro drivers, I get an error #9 when I try and do a discovery

    Not having much luck yet :(

    • http://www.freedominput.com Paul Bowles – Freedom Input

      @Brian Using the drivers from OTAdrivers.com when you have it connected did you remember to do a long press on a text entry box and then select Freedom Pro Keyboard as the input method?

      • Brian

        Yes, I did the long press and selected the keyboard. Everything seems to go okay until I want to start typing, then nada. This is incredibly frustrating. I don’t know whether to blame HTC or Android or my ineptitude.

        I’m using a HTC Evo
        Android 2.1-update 1
        Kernal 2.6.29-a2443432
        htc-kernal@and18-2 #1

        Build number
        1.32.651.6 CL171253 release-keys

  • Brian

    Okay… it’s working!

    It is AWESOME! While typing a message on an Android Forum (and using just the keyboard) I activated my music program & started listening to music off of my SD card. I adjusted the volume and, paused, stopped, restarted the music. Then I went back to the forum and continued typing out my message!

    I did have the Korean font problem as well. “SHIFT + SPACEBAR” does fix the problem… but it is still very annoying. PLEASE, eliminate that on the next driver update.

    Also, when I send texts… the people receiving them have the text filled with question marks. For example, “HOW ARE YOU” is received as “H?O?W? A?R?E? Y?O?U?” Any idea why it’d do that? Not all of my texts do that.

    • http://www.freedominput.com Paul Bowles – Freedom Input

      @Brian – Cool! Glad you got it working. I had been working on this with another customer that had the Evo and between us we couldn’t recreate the problem that you where having. Did you figure out what was wrong in the end or did it all just suddenly click and it started working?

      The option to disabled the Shift+Space toggle should be coming this week. Very, very odd about the ? being put into the text. Possibly could be something to do with toggling to Korean but I’m not 100% convinced. Will pass it on to our dev’s so they can have a look :)

      • Brian

        Thanks your prompt reply. Looking back, I think I actually had it correctly synced, but it crashed seconds after starting.

        It has crashed a few times since, briefly giving me a black screen on the settings page and then going back to normal with the exception of not being able to “disconnect” and the keyboard being unresponsive. Force quitting doesn’t fix it, I have to delete the drivers and reinstall from my SD card.

        Still, even with that, I love your product and have been praising it online.

        • nukwar

          Brian
          Here is a work around that works for me. My evo and my wifes evo have the same
          no auto reconnect or no responsive keyboard.

          6-21-2010 5:36 pm.

          I have been dinking with the freedom pro keyboard and have found the following work around when it will not auto reconnect.

          Phone: HTC evo 4G
          Firmware: 2.1-update1
          Kernel: 2.6.29-a2443432

          Prior to this test I turned off the Freedom Pro keyboard (keyboard had been off for several hours). I turned on the keyboard to see if it would auto reconnect but it did not. I left the keyboard on. I held down the power button on the phone. Went to the “phone options“ tapped on “ Airplane Mode“. Waited about 10 sec, Pressed the power button, went back to “phone option“ tapped on “Airplane Mode“. I went to a text message and tapped on “Tap to compose“ switched input to freedom pro keyboard and it auto reconnected.

          6-21-2010 7:01pm

          In this test I allowed the Freedom Pro keyboad to time out. Had to vacume and mop. Phone was left in “keyboard input mode“ British flag in upper right corner. I turned off keyboard and turned it back on but no auto reconnect. This time I went to: “All App“, tapped on “Wireless & Networks“, tapped on “Bluetooth“ to turn it off. Waited about 10 sec. Tapped on “Bluetooth“ to turn it back on again. Went to “Freedom Pro Keyboard“ and the keyboard auto reconnected. Disconnect was in place of Connect.

          • nukwar

            Brian:

            I experienced the same crash you did. I also taught it was the drivers but my happened when I hit the upper left most key that looks like an envelope. I stay away from that key. My evo gave me a screen that had some explanation but I did not write it down. The screen went black and then the phone went back to normal.
            I liken to say the I got the Black Screen of Death. Maybe the Android developers call that something else.

          • http://www.freedominput.com Paul Bowles – Freedom Input

            Sorry for the lack of updates from me. I have been off work for awhile with labyrinthitis. Just got back this week and trying to catch up.

            @Nukwar. thanks a lot for this info. It’s actually a massive help as it helps to pinpoint where the problem is. As turning the radio/Bluetooth on and off is fixing the problem it looks like for some reason the Evo’s Bluetooth is either bugging out after a certain period of time or its locking the drivers out of the Bluetooth access after a certain period of time.

          • nukwar

            Correction: British flag is in the upper LEFT corner.

      • nukwar

        Paul
        I am having the same upside down question mark issue. (ie “H?O?W? A?R?E? Y?O?U?”) It happens only when I send messages using the freedom pro keyboard. It does not happen all the time but it seems to be random. Sometimes on small messages and sometimes on large messages.

        My HTC EVO 4G has the following:
        firmware: 2.1-update1
        Kernel version: 2.6.29-a2443432
        Build # 1.32.651.6CL171253

      • nukwar

        Paul:
        After the Android update to 2.2 I have experienced the following while using the Freedom Pro Keyboard with my HTC EVO.
        Kernel 2.6.32.15-ge2fb08e
        Freedom ProKeyboard driver as of 10-1-2010.

        1. Forced closed freedom driver error. This is usually when I am not using the keyboard.
        2. Most of the time the keyboard will not auto reconnect.

        To get the keyboard to connect I have to go to the Language & Keyboard tab and the
        keyboard will connect. Once connected it will stay connected and auto reconnect.
        Sometimes it will connect after I have turned on the keyboard and held a long tap on the input , say to the texting utility such as Handcent, and selecting the freedom pro as the input device. This happens about 50% of the time.

        As always, thanks for listening.

  • Miles

    Well, after some time and two Motroloa Droids (lost my phone and replaced it),I’m finding that the beta Freedom Pro keyboard drivers for Android (on my Android 2.1 OS, in both cases) often causes my phone to power-off or reboot when connecting or disconnecting the keyboard. It’s very disheartening, despite it working VERY well while it’s on. By the by, auto-reconnect never worked for me.

    Model number: Droid
    Firmware version: 2.1-update1
    Baseband version: C_01.3E.03P
    Kernel version: 2.6.29-omap1-g7fa8788 android -build@apa26 #1
    Build number: ESE81

  • Miles

    I also forgot to mention that I noticed there’s no auto-repeat function. This is a very, very important feature to me since I use the keyboard a lot for editing or for terminal (ssh) functions.

  • Brian

    I don‘t mind the question marks occassionally interspersed with text messages, but PLEASE fix the SHIFT+SPACEBAR=KOREAN aspect. Whenever I start to get my typing speed up, I invariably hit the key combination. It‘s getting very frustrating.

    Thanks in advance

  • nukwar

    I have been using the Freedom Pro Keyboard on my HTC evo 4G. I have some auto reconnect issues at first but after the latest system update, the keyboard is working the way it is suppose to. I know that the kernel is a new one.

    The following are my notes on 7-5-2010 Time 9:00 pm
    HTC evo 4G
    Firmware: 2.1-update1
    Kernel: 2.6.29-789bf291
    Build # 1.47.65L-1CL95459

    I left the keyboard on to allow it to time out (9:00 pm). I wanted to see if it would autoreconnet.
    Turned on keyboard off at 9:36 pm and turnd it back on.
    The keyboard auto reconnected.
    At 9:41 pm I turnd off the keyboard and at 9:44 pm turned it back on and it auto reconnected.

    It seems to be working ok.

    Now I can purchase another one for my wife and her HTC evo.
    Thanks for listening to us through this forum.

  • studio

    I can’t finish a sentence without the driver switching to korean. Crashes phone repeatedly. Auto-repeat doesn’t work. In the end, this product fails to deliver on its promise.

    • Brian

      The keyboard will switch to Korean if you press, “SPACEBAR+SHIFT”. To toggle out of it, just hit “SPACEBAR+SHIFT” again.

      I don’t know what phone you have, but my Evo hasn’t crashed.

      As to auto-repeat, yeah, it sucks that auto-repeat isn’t supported. Unfortunately, until Google creates a better bluetooth stack, this is the best that is available.

    • http://www.simplemobilereview.com Chris

      studio if you want help with your keyboard you need to provide more info. The team at Freedom has graciously been helping users on this thread. And as you can see the majority of people love the keyboard. I have never heard anyone complain of the issues you mention so I am sure Freedom would love to dig into it and see where the issue lies. Not all issues are a problem with the Keyboard. A lot of issues can be tracked down to the phone.

  • http://www.freedominput.com Paul Bowles – Freedom Input

    Korean switching – New driver version is now on http://www.otadrivers.com, this adds the option to disable the Korean/English language toggle (go into the Freedom Pro Keyboard settings and tick the box next to Disable KR/EN toggle).

    Auto Repeat is something we are looking at.

    Regarding your phone crashing can you please tell me what model phone you have, the firmware version and exactly what you are doing when the phone crashes and what happens (does it just lock out, or restart, etc?)

  • http://blogs.law.emory.edu/benchapman/ Ben Chapman

    The very first link is broken – sorry I didn’t notice it earlier! It should go to
    http://www.simplemobilereview.com/leave-the-laptop-at-home-smartphone-is-enough-2

    It looks like a couple of space characters snuck into the link.

    Thanks for the article!

    Ben

    • http://www.simplemobilereview.com Rod

      Thanks for catching the broken link. We had an issue several weeks back and we are still not fully recovered

  • Scott

    I am using keypro (version 2.00.08). I can get my freedom universal keyboard 2 to pair, but not connect with my android phone (OS 2.1).

    It says it’s connecting, but it hasn’t connected.

    any suggestions

    • http://www.simplemobilereview.com Rod

      I have always used the Freedom Pro not Freedom universal but what Android Phone are you using. Have you tried the other instructions on the site?
      We provided Step-by-Step Video Pairing or Step-by-Step Pairing Written.

      Also these posts have tons of comments and one may contain the answer to your question. Let me know about your device

  • David C

    I have a the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 and i tried to use it under different models but no luck. Uninstalling this app.

  • Justin

    Hi guys, I’m looking at getting either a Droid X or a Samsung Fascinate on Verizon. I need a cheap word processor for school and thus want to pair whichever phone I buy with a bt keyboard. I’ve heard Verizon’s Bluetooth is somehow crippled and that it won’t allow for a bt keyboard. Would I be able to pair a SPP bt keyboard with one of these phones on Verizon? And if someone knows, is one phone better than the other for a bt connection?

    Thanks tons,
    Justin

    • http://simplemobilereview.com Brent

      Justin, Android can only do SPP. I have a Droid X and my wife has a Samsung Fascinate, but I am unable to test this for you because I have the Universal Keyboard 2, not the Freedom Pro. Freedom has never made drivers for the former. However, using the KeyPro drivers, it works just fine on the Droid X. For what it is worth…

      • Justin

        Brent, that’s awesome and very helpful. I’m ordering a Droid X today (the phone I preferred) and I’ll pick up a Freedom Pro keyboard from a local store ASAP!

      • Miles

        That’s not entirely accurate. Android can do HID. I have a rooted original Droid running CyanogenMOD (community-made Android image compiled from Android source code) and it uses the HID profile on all my bluetooth keyboards and even supports a mouse pointer.

        The problem is that most of the stock images of Android released on specific devices are crippled by having HID profiles removed (for example, most of the Samsung Galaxy Tab devices support the HID profile as well, except for the Verizon model where it was inexplicably hobbled by removing it).

        ANDROID can do SPP and HID. The stock version of Android from your carrier and handset, on the other hand, might not. I think Verizon probably cripples all of their devices, sadly, so your Droid X and Samsung Fascinate are probably shipped without HID support included.

        • http://www.freedominput.com Paul Bowles – Freedom Input

          Miles, completely correct.

          However the only manufacturer I know of that doesn’t cripple the Bluetooth is Samsung on the Galaxy S (not sure its all versions) and the Galaxy Tab. I’m in the process of trying to confirm it 100% but it does look like Verizon has disabled the HID support on even these Samsung devices.

  • Vzdaron

    Blueinput is designed to work with keyboards with hid protocol:

    http://www.teksoftco.com/index.php?section=blueinputandroid

  • Pingback: BT Keyboards - Forum de telechargement et partage

  • nukwar

    I have not written a review for the Freedom pro keyboard for a while. My last was when I still owned the first htc EVO, I recently , 7/2012 moved on to the htc evo 4G lte and was successful in pairing the Freedom pro and installing the drivers. Reconnect worked sometimes when you had changed from the Pro to the htc input. The key board would sometimes just start typing the last letter without stop and you have to turn off the phone. I never found out what caused this because on 11-28-2012 I moved on to the Samsung note 2. The Freedom Pro site only has android 4.0 drivers but the have worked with 4.1. I have been using the keyboard on my note 2 for a couple of day.