Last week Google released the first Developer Preview (DP1) of Android 14and little by little we are discovering them characteristics.
Above all, continuing what started with Android 12L e Android 13there are optimizations for tablet e foldingwith new guidelines and a new one SDK.
But the novelties are also tangible, and Android 14 contains several tools to increase the productivity with devices that have large screens, such as better support for keyboards. Specifically, we now have the ability to remap i modifier keys and ai support guests with the touchpad, options that are present in the settings of some manufacturers but in the future will come to all.
The support of Android at keyboards physics is nothing new, as it inherits the Linux input device interface, which allows the immediate recognition of the peripheral.
The system works great, but with a downside, which is that Android translates the Linux keycodes using the mappings defined in a key layout file (.
kl ). What’s the problemyou say. The problem is that if the keyboard does not identify itself with a ID and the android version does not have a files in layouts of the keys corresponding, a layout and mapping will be used generics.
Updated key layout file: Key backlight support
For one thing, in Android 14 the files in layouts of the generic keys has been updated, and now maps new Linux codes, including the ability to activate or change the backlight of the keys:
- tasto 228: KEYBOARD_BACKLIGHT_TOGGLE
- tasto 229: KEYBOARD_BACKLIGHT_DOWN
- tasto 230: KEYBOARD_BACKLIGHT_UP
In this regard, they have also been introduced new APIs internal to allow control. In addition, other keys have been added that enhance the use of a tablet as a work tool:
- key 120 from (undefined) to RECENT_APPS
- key 248: MUTE
- key 418: ZOOM_IN
- key 419: ZOOM_OUT
- key 528: FOCUS
And finally, support for a was also introduced new layouts.
Remap modifier keys
But let’s go back to the mapping of generic keysand how it affects yours usage when you connect a keyboard. The most important effect is that there may be differences depending on the keyboard that you use. Now of course we’re not talking about the easier or gods numbers, but above all the keys modifierwhich are those special keys that temporarily change the normal action of another key when pressed together.
Examples of these keys are Control, Alt, Shiftand you might find them in locations slightly diverse depending on the keyboard you connect to your Android tablet or smartphone. Not exactly the best, because generally they are keys for which we have developed one muscle memoryi.e. that we search with our fingers without watch.
How to do in these cases? This is where another one comes in handy novelty introduced with Android 14in which there is the possibility of remap those keys, just like you would on a PC!
In settings, to the voice Physical keyboard under Languages and inputa new entry called is in fact hidden Modifier keys (image below, left).
We say “hidden” because a developer flag must be turned on to make it appear. By touching it, you will have access to one screen (image below, center) showing the modifier keys:
- Caps Lock
Tapping each key, a window will open (image below, right), which allows you to assign a different function to it.
Another novelty concerns the touchpad, essential tool for productivity. How would you say Steve JobsIndeed, vertical screens don’t want to be touchedand therefore it is crucial to be able to move on a touch surface near the keyboard.
And even more fundamental are the guests, which are introduced with Android 14. As with the modifier keys, this function is also hidden behind a developer flagsand activating it a new item will appear Touchpad in the settings (image below, left).
By touching it, you will have access to several options (image below center) as:
- Touch to click
- To reverse scrolling
- Touch a point at the bottom right of the touchpad to access more functions
- Adjust the speed of the pointer
If you activate another developer flag, a will appear at the top new entrycall Touchpad gestures.
Touching it you can activate a series of gestures (image below, right), such as:
- Come back (swiping left or right with three fingers)
- Back to home (swiping up with three fingers)
- Open recent apps (swiping up with three fingers, then holding)
- Open notifications (swiping down with three fingers)
- Switch apps (swiping left or right with four fingers)
But that’s not all. Another novelty concerns the voice Languages and input from the settings, which is now separated into two entries: Languages e Keyboard (image below, left).
Finally, the latest news concerns the possibility of separate the screen in two (split view) to host two apps simultaneously through one shortcut. As above, the feature must be enabled via a developer flags del launcher (ENABLE_SPLIT_FROM_FULLSCREEN_SHORTCUT).