As a student studying a computing degree with an additional second language course on the side, I often try and incorporate the Chinese language while I do studying, extracurricular activities or anything involving computers while I am at home.
I currently use a phone running a free and open source operating system (GrapheneOS) and I get all of my apps from an app store that only provides FOSS applications (F-Droid). In terms of keyboard apps there is a large group of apps that are available.[^1]
FlorisBoard is my main keyboard app for typing in English. I really like the theming and it runs super smooth, I also remember hearing that GrapheneOS considered integrating FlorisBoard, but couldn’t due to a license conflict. AnySoftKeyboard and Openboard are also sufficient however they all have one major problem… none of these FOSS keyboard apps support Chinese.
Searching apps on the F-Droid app is sucky also, searching ‘Chinese keyboard’ had no sufficient results, but after some lurking online I discovered Trime which uses the RIME input method. There is not much of an advantage to trying out the exclusive features the RIME engine has if you’re just using it as a secondary language alternative like I am. However, RIME is offline and configurable and works perfect for Pinyin, abbreivations and switching between Traditional and Simplified Chinese which is a win for my use-case.
Installing the app on its own does not give you a keyboard, what you will need to do is set-up a configuration for it, there is a preset config for Pinyin available on GitHub which is supported by the Trime devs.
How to install Luna Pinyin config
Install rimerc by choosing rimerc-trime-X-X-X.zip.
Extract the contents of the /trime directory in the zip to wherever your Trime configuration is stored. (This is either /sdcard/rime or /rime on your device)
Open Trime and give them the allowed permissions, add Trime as one of the input methods.
Select ‘Schemas’ and select 朙月拼音(Luna Pinyin).
Select a theme of your choice in ‘Appearance’.
You now have Trime installed.
My preference of themes are ‘Tongwenfeng’ with ‘Standard color!’ (标准配色!)
How to use
On the top of the keyboard, there are three mode switches that allow you to change the keyboard functions.
- 中文 －› 西文(Chinese -> Western)
- 全角 －› 半角(Full width -> Half width)
- 漢字 －› 汉字(Traditional -> Simplified)
By switching to Western mode you are able to type in English. By switching width modes you change how the punctuation characters switch. By changing traditional to simplified, you can change what characters you will type in the keyboard.
That being said, those are all the starting features to try installing Trime with. You can install Trime on F-Droid to try it out for yourself.