Several years ago I was in need of a new virtual keyboard. I had used Swype since my Samsung Epic 4G Touch but it wasn’t cutting it anymore. Swype had become overly bloated and slow. I needed something fast, efficient and basic. I tried several different keyboards, and eventually settled on Touchpal X.
For many years, Touchpal has been the keyboard I not only used, but also recommended. It was my favorite keyboard of all time and was always one of the first apps I installed on a new device or ROM. Unfortunately, Touchpal has gotten to the point where I have quit using it. I no longer recommend it, and I will be uninstalling it after I post this article.
Touchpal has gone through many renditions, and is now listed on the Play Store as “Touchpal Keyboard – Cute Emoji.” The name change shows part of the fundamental change in Touchpal. It was a highly efficient and insanely fast keyboard. The keyboard had all the features I needed and none of the extra fluff. They have gone from there to being a keyboard focused on “cute” and all the unnecessary extras.
The change happened gradually. They would add one piece of bloat or another. Most of them could be disabled by going in to the app settings. Over time it became more and more difficult to disable these extra “features.” They would hide the setting within a setting for another unrelated setting.
The bloat even started out being beneficial, or at the least desirable to some users, and I could live with it. There was a theme engine and a speedometer. They added a Daily Summary that would tell you how much time you spent on your phone and what apps you used most. The bloat became more and more intrusive and it in your face.
All these changes were focused on getting more money out of the end user. I actually get that, as an app developer and site owner, you need to have money coming in to keep supporting the apps and sites. It frustrated me because Touchpal already has a great revenue generating product. They have a monthly subscription service and most of their best themes are paid themes. Despite my frustration, I was still able to ignore, or disable, most of the bloat. The keyboard was still awesome and was doing the job well.
Fast forward to a few days ago. I get a notification from the Play Store that Touchpal has a new update. So I download the update as part of a batch of other updates and don’t think anything of it. A bit later I get a text message from my wife. I unlock my phone and then go to read her message. The only problem? There’s another lockscreen with a video ad on it and the word “Touchpal” in the top right corner. After dismissing the new Touchpal lockscreen I am shown another screen that says “Jackpot” and has a go button on it. I close it and immediately go to the settings on Touchpal. I find all the new bloat and disable it.
I’m happy for a little while. Then at some point during the day, I unlock my screen and see a new pop-up! Now that I’ve disabled all the bloat, Touchpal feels it necessary to add another pop-up, encouraging me to re-enable the bloat.
At that point I decided that I have had enough and I chose to remove the app. I posted my feelings on Twitter and directed them at the official Touchpal account, I have yet to receive a response. Touchpal will remain installed long enough to write this article but it will soon be removed. It is no longer the keyboard I recommend (I’m on the search for a new one) and it will not be installed again any time soon.
Roy likes to dabble in all things Android and contributes everywhere he can. He owns the site rwilco12.com and its accompanying forum, he develops his own apps and ROM’s, is a Moderator and Recognized Developer on XDA-Developers.com and is the VP of Public Relations for AndroidFileHost.com.