Saturday, April 23, 2016

How to hide Android soft keyboard in tests

I've been running Android UI tests at my company using the API 22 revision 1 emulator (Android 5.1). Things have overall been pretty stable, but since most devices have received an update to at least Android 5.1.1 (the revision 4 emulator of API 22), I wanted to update the emulator we were using to run our tests as well.

When running Espresso UI tests, we found that disabling the software keyboard during tests made them significantly more stable. We did this by setting the following line in our AVD's config.ini file:

hw.keyboard=yes

Configuring our emulator have a hardware keyboard was enough to tell Android not to show the software keyboard while typing in input fields. However, in Android 5.1.1, this behavior changed. A new setting was added in Android 5.1.1 to the "Language & Input" section of the Android OS Settings app:


The new part is the toggle switch, "Hardware - Show input method". By default, it's enabled, which means that even if the device has a hardware keyboard (or in our case, our emulator is pretending to have a hardware keyboard), the software IME will still be displayed on screen.

This had a significant impact on our tests, and was causing many tests to fail. For example, a test that called the Espresso method pressBack() and expected to close the current activity would fail because the pressBack() call closed the soft keyboard instead of closing the activity.

After quite a bit of searching, I found that it's possible to toggle this OS setting using an ADB command:

adb shell settings put secure show_ime_with_hard_keyboard 0

Once we found this command, we modified our emulator startup script to call it after launching the emulator and we were back to our stable behavior - no software keyboard. If you're having similar problems, try out this solution for running tests on Android 5.1.1 and above.