Best keyboard apps for Android phones and tablets [Video]

May 9, 2012
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Jwisser/Flickr

The advent of the smartphone and the emergence and increasing popularity of tablets has changed the way people communicate. Voice-calling has almost taken a backseat, with a lot of users primarily using their handhelds for internet browsing, email, and some, even for writing complete documents, spreadsheets, etc.

Capacitive touchscreen technology and the increasing size of smartphone screens has made it easier for users to type long messages, emails, and notes on a full QWERTY virtual keyboard. Remember the time when typing a “C” required you to tap the 2 key on the phone number pad three times, in quick succession?

Unfortunately, for many consumers, touchscreen keyboards aren’t that easy to use, and most users are quite unhappy with the stock keyboards available on their devices. This has led to the emergence of many third-party virtual keyboard applications.¬†Apart from just providing a full keyboard, these apps are also smarter, featuring word-completion recommendations using built-in dictionaries, swipe and slide features for easy typing, and, in the case of tablets, thumb keyboards for typing on the much larger screens.

Today, we’ll talk about some of the best keyboards available for Android smartphones and tablets. Here are are few things that you will need to know about the video:

  • Since many find typing on larger screens slightly difficult, we will be using a tablet for our purposes.
  • The ColorNote¬†Notepad app is used to show the functionality of the various keyboards.
  • The input methods were configured in Settings beforehand.

Let’s take a look.

SwiftKey Tablet X

SwiftKey X is one of the most popular third-party Android keyboards available on the Google Play Store. It boasts a number of useful features, including:

  • The tablet application features smaller keys and a layout for thumb typing.
  • An impressive word prediction system that not only completes words but also gives you an option for what you may want to type next.
  • Keyboard options include Settings, Voice Input, Share, and Support.
  • “Learn from Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and RSS feed” option allows the keyboard to use and sync words you’ve used on the mentioned sites.
  • Theme options include Neon, Light, Pumpkin, and Dark.
  • Advanced settings feature Typing style, Spacebar options, Autocap options, haptic feedback, and voice recognition settings.
  • Swiftkey X stats, which shows how much your efficiency improves and how many keystrokes you save when using Swiftkey X.
  • You can quickly switch between the regular and the split keyboard layout.

As you can see, Swiftkey X features comprehensive settings options and customization abilities, which make it one of most popilar keyboard apps in the Play Store. You can download the keyboard from the Google Play Store here (phone version) and here (tablet version) for $2.99. There is also a 1-month trial version available.

SlideIT

SlideIT is a keyboard app with swipe capabilities, a la the Swype keyboard, where you “slide” from letter to letter to type out a word. Features include:

  • An extensive word recommendation dictionary.
  • Voice recognition capability and up to four pages for punctuation and symbols.
  • Choice between regular typing or using the slide feature.
  • Multiple language settings available.
  • Settings include Language options, Look and Feel settings, Preferences, Share, Skins, and Speech-to-Text settings.
  • “Look and Feel” settings feature a choice between SlideIT 3D and Classic skins, Landscape and full screen modes, Long press duration, and visual settings reset.
  • “Import Contacts” allows the keyboard to recognize the names that you type.

I use the SlideIT keyboard, but I personally find the slide function quite difficult on the larger screen of a tablet, but very convenient on my smartphone. You can download the keyboard from the Google Play Store here. It is currently on sale for $0.99. There is also a 15-day trial version available for free as well.

Thumb Keyboard

The Thumb keyboard, as the name suggests, is ideal for thumb typing, which is especially useful for tablets. It also features a lot of advanced functions that improve productivity. Features include:

  • Stock configuration features large tiles ideal for typing on a tablet. Features two separate panels for numbers, punctuation, and symbols.
  • Various layout options include – Phone Standard, Phone Split Large, Phone Split Compact, Phone/tablet 5″, Tablet 7″ Layout 1, Tablet 7″ Layout 2, Tablet 10″/9″ Layout, and a Custom Landscape/Portrait combination.
  • Comprehensive word-completion suggestion function.
  • Further layout customization allows you to set a thumb keyboard option for one hand and also features a full (standard) layout keyboard.
  • Highly-responsive and easy to use.

As you can see, it has multiple optimization options for devices of all sizes and types, and is certainly very easy to use. You can download the Thumb keyboard for $2.99 from the Google Play Store here.

LogiType Keyboard

Logitype uses a groundbreaking technology that moves and resizes keys while you type to accommodate your typing style. The layout also mimics a PC keyboard, which gives new users a sense of familiarity and ease when typing. Features of this keyboard include:

  • Learns where your hands are to give a more fluid and customized approach.
  • Includes a horizontal number pad layout, page up and page down keys, arrow keys, and a tab button similar to a PC keyboard

If you find standard keyboards uncomfortable and are looking for a close-to-PC experience, this is the keyboard for you. You can download it for free from the Play Store here.

ICS Keyboard

If you’re one of the many unlucky Android users still stuck on an older version of Android and looking for a slice of Ice Cream Sandwich, this is the keyboard for you. Features include:

  • ¬†This is a standard layout and is not a thumb keyboard.
  • Portrait mode on the tablet is very similar to using the keyboard on a smartphone.
  • Multiple pages for numbers, punctuation, and symbols.
  • Voice recognition capability.
  • Settings include haptic feedback, longpress options, and keypress options.
  • While the keyboard is free, a donationware version features theme and background settings, change height, and dictionary.

You can download ICS keyboard here.

Video

Below is a video of all the keyboards that we showed you above. If you are looking for a specific keyboard to check out, here are the timestamps for each one:

  • Swiftkey X – 01:07
  • SlideIT – 03:57
  • Thumb keyboard – 06:03
  • Logitype – 07:51
  • ICS keyboard – 09:04

What are your thoughts? Are there any other keyboards that deserve to make this list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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