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Palm Pre gets virtual keyboard, unofficially

WebOS Internals releases an onscreen keyboard patch for WebOS and the Palm Pre.

Now you can type in landscape mode! Screenshot by Daren Darrow/CNET

The WebOS Internals crew on Friday released a virtual keyboard patch for the Palm Pre.

Now, with the homebrew patch installed (homebrew apps are developed and distributed through third-party sources, not Palm or through the official App Catalog), Pre users can type without opening the slider keyboard.

Having an onscreen keyboard is a godsend for browsing the Web in landscape mode. Instead of rotating the phone and using the built-in keyboard, users can now just double-tap the gesture area and type away--without all the twisting, sliding, and pressing.

The patch modifies the operation of the onscreen keyboard that WebOS uses to insert symbols with the slider keyboard. The patch works well, but has at least one hang-up: You can't use it for all text entry areas. It can be used to type a URL in a Web browser, but not to fill in forms on Web sites. Even with this issue, it's better than not having a virtual keyboard, at least until Palm releases an update that includes one.

              The virtual keyboard for WebOS in action.

              (Credit: Dieter Bohn/

While there are a lot of steps to installing homebrew apps and patches, they are not difficult to perform. People new to the homebrew scene should just follow the instructions.

To install the patch, follow the steps that PreCentral posted on its blog. To install WebOS Quick Install, follow the steps in its forum.

Requirements: Palm Pre with developer mode enabled, WebOS Quick Installer or command line access to the phone.

(Source: PreCentral)