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
- 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.’
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I also choose to enable Connect/Disconnect Notify and Backlight Auto-On.
- 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.
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!