Chapter 11. The Input Method Framework
Android 1.5 introduced the input method framework (IMF), which is commonly referred to as soft keyboards. However, this term is not necessarily accurate, as IMF could be used for handwriting recognition or other means of accepting text input via the screen.
Keyboards, Hard and Soft
Some Android devices have a hardware keyboard that is visible some of the time (when it is slid out). A few Android devices have a hardware keyboard that is always visible (so-called "bar" or "slab" phones). Most Android devices, though, have no hardware keyboard at all. The IMF handles all of these scenarios.
In short, if there is no hardware keyboard, an input method editor (IME) will be available to the user when they tap an enabled ...