One or the nice things about Android smartphones is that if you don’t like the one-time screen keyboard, home screen launcher, or other default apps that come with your device, you can probably replace them. Usually the best be reasons to do that have to do with personal preferences. Maybe you want a different layout, or more customization options. Or maybe… Just maybe… You don’t want to see banner ads every be time you try to type something.

That’s exactly what many owners of HTC smartphones are seeing today. You can probably blame HTC’s decision to partner with a third party keyboard app maker. 

Update: HTC has issued a statement indicating that this was not what the company had planned to have happen, and that HTC is working to remedy the issue. Scroll down to see the full statement.

A number of recent HTC phones come with a keyboard from Touchpal preloaded. That keyboard is also available through the Google Play Store, which allows Touchpal to push out software updates without waiting for HTC to release an updated version of Android for the phone.

Usually that’s a good thing, since it allows you to get bug fixes, security updates, or new features more quickly. But it seems like Touchpal decided to insert ads above the qwerty keys in the latest update.

HTC says users can uninstall all updates from the app settings menu on their phone to disable ads (and anything else that’s ever been pushed to the keyboard through a Play Store update). But since the keyboard comes preinstalled on the phone as a system app, you can’t uninstall it entirely. 

What you can do is download and install an alternate keyboard, like Google’s own Gboard app. And if Google ever decides to install ads in that app, (which seems unlikely, but you never know), you can ditch it for another option.

By letting users know that the (at least temporary) fix involves rolling back to a previous version of the app, it sounds like Touchpal may have decided to start running ads without letting the phone maker know. So maybe HTC will apply some pressure and this issue will work itself out soon. But it’s a bit surprising to see this happen in the first place. And recent reviews for the Touchpal keyboard for HTC app in the Play store suggest that users are not pleased.

Update: HTC has released the following statement:

Due to an error, some HTC customers have reported seeing ads on their phone’s keyboard. This is absolutely not the experience we intended, and we’re working to immediately fix the error and remove the ads as quickly as possible.

Via Android Police

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9 replies on “Ads appear in default keyboard app for some HTC phones (Updated)”

  1. wow ads on the keyboard which is already covering 75-80% of the screen… wow

  2. Engadget suggests that HTC may have been taken by surprise too, though not official comment yet. I suspect they were blindsided by the app developer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the app developer accidentally included the ads in an update that was meant for their free version on the Google Play store, or something like that.

    Big screw up no doubt, but I also doubt it was intentional of HTC’s part, and perhaps not even the app developer, who stands to lose out big time in terms of future contracts.

  3. Wow, HTC is really half-assing it nowadays. They want to “differentiate” their device so they install a non-Google Android keyboard but outsource it to some crappy company who ends up pushing ads to it, hahaha.

    Maybe HTC’s VR division will do better than their smartphone division. Doubt it.

  4. I know it’s swappable for another keyboard, but you have to wonder why HTC thinks that even a single user would tolerate this.

    Their poor judgement is enough to have me avoid their brand altogether. Who could predict their next imposing design change?

    1. This is a special kind of stupid for a manufacturer.

      Not too long ago, I thought HTC was hands-down the best manufacturer of Android devices in the entire market. They started running out of ideas around the time of the One M8, and then completely lost their marbles a few releases later.

      I’ll be sticking with Motorola for the foreseeable future.

      1. Motorola has been making some fairly poor choices lately as well. Their flagship phone, the Moto Z, has very mediocre specs, with some concerning omissions (802.11ac). Now the Moto Z2 is out, still stuck in the mid-range category, and has a smaller battery.

        1. Others are reporting that HTC outsourced their keyboards to a third party, and that third party “accidentally” pushed the ad code to this keyboard, meaning to put it elsewhere. Not to excuse any party in this major screw-up, but I think it’s clear that HTC did not expect users to tolerate this.

          1. Exactly, HTC is still at some fault for relying on a third-party but TouchPal did this, not HTC. They also did it with their other partners too and from what I heard, the contract involved merely making an ad-free version of the keyboard for them so they basically broke the contract and could be sued for this.

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