Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

In ‘Error’, HTC’s Default TouchPal Keyboard Was Displaying Ads

Jon Fingas, Engadget:

It’s one thing to voluntarily put up with ads on your phone in return for a lower price or free apps, but it’s another to have ads delivered without warning… and unfortunately, HTC owners are dealing with that right now. An updated TouchPal keyboard (which HTC uses as its default on some devices) has started serving banner ads to unsuspecting users of phones like the HTC 10. You’re not stuck with the keyboard, of course, but most people would rather not have to switch keyboards just to avoid crass commercialism (and, for that matter, reclaim screen real estate).

TouchPal, the third-party developer behind the keyboard, offers their keyboard with ads by default and a subscription is required to remove them.1 It sounds like HTC has an agreement with TouchPal for an ad-free default keyboard, and the ad-supported version was mistakenly shipped to HTC users.

I know HTC is struggling, but it still seems a bit creepy that the primary text input on some of their phones is provided by a third party developer, and that this error can easily be fixed server-side. That sounds like a privacy nightmare to me.

  1. They also claim in the app description that their keyboard can “boost battery charging speed”, though it’s unclear how a third-party keyboard is supposed to do that. ↩︎