Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0: How to ruin a good thing

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0: How to ruin a good thing

Summary: As good as the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet is, a software choice by Samsung makes using it a certain way infuriating.

Galaxy Note 8 w keyboard
Note 8.0 with ZAGGkeys Folio Keyboard
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

I like the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet by Samsung, and think it's a great small tablet. It leverages the form and Android to good effect, augmented by good utilities Samsung has installed on top of the OS. Unfortunately, that's not the case when using the Note 8.0 with a physical keyboard, due to a silly implementation of the onscreen keyboard.

I use the Note 8.0 with the ZAGGkeys Folio keyboard. This keyboard is much like ZAGG's model for the iPad mini, my favorite keyboard for that tablet. The Folio makes it possible to write a lot of text through fast touch typing. At least, until Samsung gets in the way.

For some bizarre reason, Samsung has decided that its onscreen keyboard must be the default when a physical keyboard is connected. Even if you use a third-party virtual keyboard with the Note 8.0, which works fine, the moment you connect a Bluetooth keyboard to the Galaxy, Samsung's software automatically changes the default to Samsung's keyboard.

This means that you have to manually switch back to the keyboard of choice when you're finished using the physical keyboard, which is annoying, but that's not the worst of it. Since the Samsung keyboard is active in the background while using a physical keyboard, the app interprets long-pressed keys on the virtual keyboard as a signal that you want to type an accented character, and opens a bar with possible accented characters.

The way it works is when you want an accented character, you hold down the letter key on Samsung's onscreen keyboard and a bar pops up on the display. This bar grabs the focus, which interrupts the text entry if it pops up by accident, and you either wait for it to go away through inaction or you hit the back button. The problem is it's so sensitive that it pops up all the time unintentionally and kills productive text entry.

Sadly, this constant popping up of the special entry bar also happens when using an external keyboard. You're typing away, and then the bar is onscreen and text entry is stopped. You wait for it to go away or hit the back button, and then try to get back to the process of writing.

There is no way to set the sensitivity of the long-press (or turn it off) that invokes this bar, so you just have to live with it. It is so annoying that it makes writing on the Note 8.0 a royal pain. If there was a way to turn this accented character bar off, the problem would be solved. Or better yet, don't force the default onscreen keyboard to change to Samsung's app. Third-party keyboard apps don't interrupt text entry, so the situation with the Note 8.0 is totally unnecessary.

Samsung, please get rid of this goofy situation. Stop changing the default virtual keyboard to your own with this horrible effect. Let the user change the keyboard and keep it changed, even with a physical keyboard connected. This is a case of getting in the user's way without a need to do so, so stop it.

I'm sure I'll hear from Android device users who will point out that I can root the Note 8.0 and install a custom ROM without this annoyance. I don't want to do that; I like all of Samsung's other augmentations to Android. I just want it to work the way it should.

For the record, this article was written using the Note 8.0 and ZAGG keyboard, and the dreaded pop-up stopped production four times.

Related stories:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Samsung, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Null Keyboard

    And quick Keyboard Switcher.

    James, try these and see if they can help at all. The quick switcher provides a small home screen widget for toggling input methods.
    I've found it quite useful once bluetooth'd to a keyboard to be able to quickly hit that and toggle the input method.
    That's on a tab 2 with CM10.2, but still might help?
    • No dice

      Tried these and a few others, Samsung prevents them from working.
      • Mh,

        Very annoying............
    • Bluetooth Keep Active w/ Null Keyboard seems to work

      I installed the Null Keyboard widget and then an app called Bluetooth Keep Active. In the settings, I set the time delay to 2 minutes and it seems to be working. I originally set the time delay to 10 minutes and it didn't work. It probably will be a bit harder on my battery life, but it keeps my Note 8.0 thinking that my Bluetooth keyboard is active. I woke up this morning and my bluetooth keyboard was still working. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
      John Schott
  • Samsung loses huge credibility for "paying" for positive reviews

    I've repeatedly said I find Samsung products to be of a lower build quality, and Android to be a less intuitive, buggy OS.

    Now, perhaps a reason Samsung thrives despite products that should have poor reviews, as news the Chinese government fined Samsung for paying students to create false online forums and write false positive reviews of Samsung products. Good way to gloss over negative attributes.

    The most surprising thing? The "fine" was a whopping 300 thousand dollars, meaning the Chinese government didn't want to actually negatively affect this multi billion dollar company.

    Still l prefer BlackBerry for grown up mobile solutions!
    • Not Surprise.. at all.

      They have done those things in Korean market a lot. Don't forget the fact that Samsung has been the most powerful monopoly and untouchable in South Korea for about a half century. Nothing can stop them.
  • Android, no thanks :-)

    Samdung, ask them to learn how to make capacitors first...

    Its a shame that toy OS like iCrap and Crapdroid are pretending to be computing devices... Just because a keyboard can be attached to them doesn't make them a PC
    • And we have all watched MS advertisements

      Which prove that the only thing a Surface can do is to have a keyboard attach and detach, attach and detach, attach and detach . . .

      Surface, on the basis of MS own advertising, is useless for anything else.
    • yes we know...

      you microsoft trolls are obliged to write something retarded like this all the time.
    • Negative, negative

      First off, "iCrap" and "Crapdroid" (fanboiz - sigh) ARE "computing devices". They've got memory, storage, display and processor - and can have applications loaded on them and run.

      Second what would you recommend? If you're going to say "Surface RT" then I'll laugh so hard that I'll fall off my chair. And if you're meaning "full fat" Surface Pro then that's a LOT more expensive than anything from Apple or Google.

      Lastly, it's *Samsung's* implementation that is bone-headed, not Android as a whole. Try an Asus Transformer with it's keyboard dock and you'll have little to complain about. Heck, I can even do Shift/Control-select and Control-C, Control-V, Control-X shortcuts in every application I've tried.
  • Just a thought

    James, would you have had this annoyance if you were using your iPad mini? or even a galaxy 8 if you a fandroid.

    To me, the only advantage to using the galaxy note is if you have a need for pen input. If your using a keyboard, it seems to negate the need.
    • How about using both at different times

      I don't see how the desire to use a keyboard = the lack of a need for a pen. I'm looking at the note 10.1 and plan to use both extensively.
  • So interesting, they do that on the Note 2

    I thought I was doing something wrong. Everytime I turn off the phone or remove the battery (which I do when I swap sims) it goes back to the samsung keyboard and I have to manually change back to swiftkey. I'm considering a note 10.1 (2014) I really hope Samsung is not doing that on that unit, but I suspect they are.
    • I hate Samsung

      Sorry, but if memory serves me rightly that Stalinist "our keyboard is best" bug/feature has come from TouchWiz, so anything that runs it as the UI will have the same problem. Certainly my older Note 10.1 does. That said, I don't reboot that very often (about once a month) so it's not really a major undertaking.

      But, I just rebooted my Note 10.1 (to check this) and surprise, surprise - SwiftKey remains the default keyboard, so that reboot-switch must be just for the phones and ISN'T a TouchWiz "feature". And before you ask, my Note 10.1 is running stock and hasn't been rooted.

      Hope this helps, and I hope you enjoy your Note 10.1 - I've had mine more than a year and it's been very useful.
  • Cynical

    Would it be cynical to ask whether Samsung has a proprietary (i.e. expensive) hard keyboard that does NOT have this problem? Or that they're planning to release one?
  • Tasker?

    Have you tried installing Tasker and setting up a rule that when Bluetooth is connected it changes the default keyboard?
  • Samsung

    LOL - lower quality build??? You must be a Apple employee scared to death of Samsung and all their new Quality products. Samsung Rocks.
  • samsung note 8 keyboard

    Did you disable your Samsung keyboard and connect through bluetooth?