BlueBerry Is A Smartphone-Agnostic Keyboard Firmware

A Google Pixel 7 with a detachable Bluetooth keyboard.

If you’re anything like us, you really, really miss having a physical keyboard on your phone. Well, cry no more, because [Joe LiTrenta] has made it possible for any modern smartphone whatsoever to have a detachable, physical keyboard and mouse at the ready. [Joe] calls this creation the BlueBerry.

A couple of metal plates and a mag-safe pop socket connect a Bluetooth keyboard to a Google Pixel 7. The keyboard/mouse combo in question is a little BlackBerry Bluetooth number from ZitaoTech which is available on Tindie, ready to go in a 3D printed case. What [Joe] has done is to create a custom ZMK-based firmware that allows the keyboard be device-agnostic.

In order to easily mount the keyboard to the phone and make it detachable, [Joe] used adhesive-backed metal mounting plates on both the phone and the keyboard, and a mag-safe pop socket to connect the two. The firmware makes use of layers so everything is easily accessible.

Check out the demo video after the break, which shows the board connected to a Google Pixel 7. It makes the phone comically long, but having a physical keyboard again is serious business, so who’s laughing now? We’d love to see a keyboard that attaches to the broad side of the phone, so someone get on that. Please?

Do you have a PinePhone? There’s an extremely cute keyboard for that.

30 thoughts on “BlueBerry Is A Smartphone-Agnostic Keyboard Firmware

    1. Your fingers are dry or your skin is thick, which causes it to dry out easy. Or you have sausage fingers.
      If you don’t have sausage fingers, try using “okeefe’s working hands”. Glycerine based moisturizers work, but leave a slimy film.

      1. it’s more the type of touchscreen. The nokia n800 had a wonderful keyboard. was touch. One could type very fast and accurately on that. Also, it’s the fine lines between the ‘keys’. Why the keys are not hex shaped or round is beyond me. There was a hex shaped software keyboard at one point in time, can’t find it anymore. The footprint of your touch is probably very flat and therefore wide. I feel the pain, I hate touch keyboards on modern phones. zero tactile feedback makes it impossible to be accurate with such small areas and zero buffer space between each action space. couple that with the bad aspect ratio of phones being optimized for video content rather than actual functionality and you get a really crappy experience for many. if they made phones wide enough to actually leave a tiny gap between each ‘key’ the experience would be much better.

      1. You’re going the wrong direction here. Voice interfaces are fine when you’re alone, and everything goes well, but good luck correcting a mistake with a voice interface.

  1. I can’t say I miss physical keypads, but paired with a mouse it could be very useful for those tasks that touch is just not up to, and the detachableness would make it very useful when tethering a phone to a TV.

      1. Does anyone make an Android version? Anyone?

        I’ve seen versions intended for a tablet, used in landscape mode. Are there smaller versions for smartphones? A slide would be excellent but I’d love to get a simple keyboard in a folding case that would actually fit in my pocket. (A 5×8″ is not pocket-sized…)

        My fingers are ordinary-size, neither dry nor moist, and no calluses. What I have is essential tremor that is getting worse by the year. Touch screens are a challenge.

        1. I put together the BlueBerry / wrote the firmware as I could not find anyone making one and the Key2 is out of date so Google Wallet is no longer working.

          I’m extremely happy with having a Mouse / Keyboard combo on my device but always happy to try something new.

  2. I worry about the ergonomics of this on a modern phone with the ridiculously long aspect ratio. One would naturally cradle the keyboard in one’s hands, but then the phone will be cantilevered behind the keyboard making the experience rather uncomfortable. The BlackBerry had great ergonomics for typing because it had a small square screen above the keyboard. What would make more sense ergonomically to me would be a thin keyboard that pops over the bottom of the screen of a modern phone (where the on screen keyboard shows up), with appropriate display changes on the phone.

    1. Hey!

      One of the reasons I used the Popsocket to combine the two is for ergonomics / the ability to easily remove the keyboard whenever I wanted.

      When I’m typing with the Keyboard I cradle it while holding the Popsocket between my pointer and middle finger. If I’m just using the touch screen I put the popscoket between my pinky and ring finger.

      I do with someone would make a new keyboard phone but until they do this setup cost me ~$60 and I’ve been using it with my Pixel / iPhone interchangeably.

  3. I went down the rabbit hole of USB-to-go. I cut open a micro USB plug and soldered a tiny wire to the 5th pin and glued the boot back closed the other end was soldered to a USB socket. I plugged it into my phone and a classic IBM clicky and fired off a text to a friend, not pocket stuff. I see friends spending too much time “thumbing” ! There is a roll up rubber keyboard that would be silent in a cafe that is somewhat pocket friendly.

    There was a saying “he’s all thumbs” referring to man’s least dexterous digit. Strong yes but clumsy, now with thumbs only controllers phone use we have been left trying to compensate.

    1. Part of the reason I went down this solution was the ability to use it with any phone. Got burned by the Key2 no longer being supported by my work policy.

      I’m planning on upgrading to the Pixel 9 Pro and will just use my BlueBerry with it.

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