Android 2.3 is coming with a brand new soft-keyboard that builds upon previous versions, but adds some pretty nice features and functionalities. Upon first glance you might easily get Gingerbread’s keyboard confused with that from Windows Phone 7 — though the similarities stop there.
The new keyboard adds a row of number keys across the tops of qwerty row. Similar to the HTC IME and Swype, long-pressing on these keys will give you the number (rather than the letter) that corresponds with that key. A welcome addition is the ability to switch keyboard languages easily and without having to change the preferred language of the entire operating system.
Something that isn’t new, but is worth mentioning, is Google’s “microphone” button which allows you to enter text by speaking. Recognized text is entered into your text box, decorated with an underline, making it easy to delete the spoken block of text if something went wrong with the text-recognition — or if you forgot what you were going to say half way through.
Not necessarily related to the keyboard, but more to text editing, is the new “cursor” arrow. The cursor arrow can be placed anywhere within the text and indicates where new text will be inserted. Dragging the cursor one direction or the other should split the cursor into one of two “selection tabs” which you can manipulate to select text, which can then be cut, copied, or deleted easily.
Most other functionalities of the keyboard from Android 2.2 have been kept, so getting used to this new keyboard shouldn’t require any time at all.