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On Android, when using landscape mode, certain apps override some user settings and "force" the keyboard to go fullscreen (see first screenshot - WhatsApp app with an Android fullscreen keyboard). The input text-field takes up the rest of screen, so users can see the keyboard and the input text area only.

Compare that to the rest of screenshots where the input text-field is smaller and users can see other context.

The two versions are as follows:

a) WhatsApp fullscreen keyboard: Users can't see any context (i.e. previous messages). The input text-field is taking up half the screen. The keyboard app (buttons and text input box) take up the entire screen. This is a chatting app that users mostly use it to send short messages. fullscreen keyboard forced


b) WhatsApp normal landscape keyboard: It allows users to see previous messages (see what they are replying to) as it uses the app's own text-input field. The buttons and text input box take up about 60% of the screen depending on the app. You are also able to see context in apps like SMS apps which will automatch contacts or Gmail which will automatch recipients. normal landscape keyboard with context showing

1. Why would a messaging app such as WhatsApp want to do this by default?

2. Why would any app want to do this?

(I see you have a larger area to compose but is that actually useful? It's easier to remember what you've typed yourself. Wouldn't portrait be better? Or making it an option?)

For those saying this is standard Android behaviour, here are some screenshots proving otherwise. You can clearly see I am using the keyboard in landscape mode but the input text-field is not taking up half the screen as in a fullscreen keyboard!

Chrome SMS Gmail

  • 2
    Are you sure this is some apps forcing it and it's not simply Android'd default behavior for landscape keyboard? – Big_Chair May 29 at 13:29
  • Yes. It works fine, for example, in Chrome. It even works in the SMS app and Gmail both of which you are writing messages of equal or longer length. – Turkeyphant May 29 at 14:19
  • @Turkeyphant now I think I understand the issue you are trying to discuss here. But in the two WhatsApp screenshots you are providing, the first one takes up the whole screen, but the second does not right? – Mo'ath May 30 at 14:07
  • Precisely. That's why the first one says "Disable Fullscreen Keyboard" and the second hasn't got a fullscreen keyboard. The alt text explains this. – Turkeyphant May 30 at 16:30
  • @Turkeyphant It was not clear to me that the fullscreen keyboard issue you are referring to is that the input text-field takes up half the screen leaving the user not able to see anything but a full-size keyboard and a big input text area only. While other keyboards although display a full-size keyboard, they provide a smaller input text-field and use the rest of the screen to show other context like i.e. previous messages in a chatting app. I will edit my answer according to this understanding. – Mo'ath May 30 at 18:39
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Edited

I have edited my answer after discussing the question with the OP.

With better understanding of the issue, I can say that Yes it is annoying to have the keyboard and input area cover the whole screen (Fullscreen Keyboard) especially for an app like WhatsApp for the following reasons:

1- Not just it hides previous messages but also all options available! You need to exit the fullscreen mode to be able to see and use other options (i.e calling, going back...etc)

2- Having a little more text input space for long messages is less valuable than having the ability to see previous messages and other context and options in an app like WhatsApp where users usually chat and write short messages.

*It could be helpful for some users for email apps or apps where users input long text where in many cases, users don't really need to see the original email text to write a reply. A bigger cleaner text input area could be helpful.


There was a confusion of what the issue is with fullscreen keyboards, and whether that is enforced by the OS or the app itself.

  • I don't think you're right. Why does it occur with WhatsApp and not other apps? I understand that it only happens when the phone is in landscape mode (note it doesn't need to be on auto-rotate as you claim). I want to know how to disable to full screen keyboard in all circumstances (including in landscape mode) since it's possible in most apps. – Turkeyphant May 29 at 16:53
  • @Turkeyphant What other apps that it doesn't occur on? I tried it on WhatsApp, Facebook, Google search, Linkedin, Keep, Email, Hangouts, Skype...Maybe some apps can block it, it is possible to override the OS behavior. – Mo'ath May 29 at 17:02
  • How you gonna put WhatsApp on landscape if the auto rotate is locked to portrait? The Auto-rotate option in android automatically sets the layout to portrait or landscape based on the rotation. You still can switch other apps like youtube to landscape while the layout is set to portrait if you maximize the view but that's another subject... – Mo'ath May 29 at 17:14
  • I've already mentioned three other apps - Chrome, Gmail and Messages. I will add screenshots to the question. As for "needing to be on auto-rotate"; there are three possible settings: "auto-rotate", "portrait lock", landscape lock". Regardless of which method you use to get into landscape, the issue occurs. It's nothing to do with this setting. – Turkeyphant May 29 at 21:54
  • @Turkeyphant Do you mean to say that regardless of the Screen Rotation settings as long as the phone is held in landscape mode the application displays a landscape view? I doubt that is the case. Have you tested it on multiple devices? If I am lying down on my side and would like to type a message and prefer to do it in portrait view, I should be able to do it. To answer your question, can the view be locked to Portrait only – yes, it is possible. How can we achieve this – is beyond the scope of this UX forum as implementation questions are not welcome here. – Ren May 30 at 11:02
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  1. Honestly I have no clue why WhatsApp does this as most messages are contextual so you want to see the conversation before hand.
  2. There is few use cases of a full screen keyboard that can be useful. For example, using it to type large amounts of text. It allows you to see more of paragraphs in one go and allows easier scrolling due to more screen estate for typed text rather then one single line.
  • Regarding 2, I don't think that actually helps most people (you need more context of what others have written rather than what you have written). Also, in Gmail it's not forced where, if anything, you'll be writing much longer messages than in a texting app. – Turkeyphant May 29 at 14:21
  • @Turkeyphant I'm not sure what Gmail you're using, by mine pops up a full compose panel that essentially mimics the behavior of a full screen keyboard. – plainclothes May 29 at 19:09
  • Gmail version 2019.04.28.2462133.release. As far as I'm aware this is the most recent. Again, almost every app I use apart from WhatsApp doesn't force the ridiculous full screen keyboard in landscape mode. – Turkeyphant May 29 at 21:55

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