If you’ve just recently ditched physical keys for a sleek touchscreen phone, typing on imaginary letters on screen can be quite a challenge. Thankfully, Android is all about options, but with so many options laid out in front of you, how do you know which ones to go for? Which ones of the dozens of keyboard apps on the market should you commit to?
For those of you who haven’t quite made that choice, look no further. We’ve rounded up some of the best keyboards that have gotten the love of Android users across the Internet.
Here’s a list of a few keyboards that may suit your needs, in no particular order:
The first thing you’ll notice when you launch SwiftKey is its gorgeous design but SwiftKey’s true power is its function. SwiftKey relies on predictive text, and suggestions pop up above your keyboard when you type in a word.
SwiftKey takes conversation patterns into account, and not just by the letters you’ve typed. This keyboard can even learn more about your typing habits through Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and your SMS messages, if you’re comfortable with that.
SwiftKey is available on the Google Play store. You can visit SwiftKey X Keyboard Free for the free trial version or SwiftKey X Keyboard for the paid version.
If you’re a slow typist, then Swype may be for you. Rather than using your thumbs or index fingers for hunt-and-pecking, this app lets you drag your fingers through letters to spell a word. Typing then becomes a one-handed process so you can free up your other hand to do other things.
Even if you miss swiping over a key, Swype usually figures out what word you want. If it doesn’t work out quite right, then Swype offers you a set of options that you can tap to insert. If you need to enter a word that may not exist in the dictionary, tap on Swype’s keys like a normal keyboard. Swype offers haptic feedback, but you can toggle it off and on. There’s unfortunately no way to set for a more gentle vibration.
You can sign up for a beta-version of Swype from its developer’s website. Simply register with an e-mail address accessible via your Android device and receive a link to download Swype.
Smart Keyboard Pro supports control of the keypress vibration and sounds, user configurable swipe gestures, and a number of built-in skins. Though it may look similar to the iPhone’s virtual keyboard, it unfortunately isn’t quite as good.
It is, however, an improvement over the stock Android keyboard. Keypresses are usually detected accurately and text predictions are pretty good, as well. Smart Keyboard Pro offers you a number of advanced settings so you can tweak the keyboard exactly the way you like it. This keyboard uses a QWERTY layout and gives you settings, including a smart dictionary which learns the frequency of words you type to improve suggestions.
Smart Keyboard is available on the Google Play store, in either Smart Keyboard Trial or Smart Keyboard Pro versions.
Instead of giving you just one option, FlexT9 gives you four in one app. FlexT9 is powered by Dragon that allows you to pick whichever keyboard style fits your mood. Speak to your phone and see your talk turn into text. Trace and glide your finger from one key to the next. Use your finger to draw anything you’d like to type. And, if you’re more old-school, tap away at the keys. FlexT9 gives you all the options you’d ever need, even if it’s a little simple in the aesthetics area.
Download FlexT9 from the Google Play store today.
Last but not the least, Ultra Keyboard comes packed with a ton of features geared towards giving you a better Android experience. A feature filled toolbar allows you to flick through to see all it offers, and to quickly change settings, navigate through text, cut and paste, change dictionaries, change themes and more.
Just like the host of other keyboards we’ve presented, Ultra Keyboard suggests words as you type. Its suggestions box has been designed to be smart, fast, and easy to use. Ultra Keyboard even offers you word replacements, so if you’re in a hurry simply type “brb” and see it transform into “be right back” on the screen.
Ultra Keyboard’s features don’t end there; it comes with a dynamic UI, multi-touch support, secondary characters, word tracing, speech-to-text and translation.
You can purchase Ultra Keyboard from the Google Play store today.
What about you? What do you think is the best keyboard for Android?
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I almost started by saying how surprised I was that you did not mention ‘MessagEase’. But I’m not surprised, as no-one seems to write about the markets best kept secret.
I swear by this keyboard. Admittedly, you do need to give it a couple of days or a week – depending on how much you write – before you can even write at your normal speed. After that, however you will be writing so fast that the word prediction will not keep up with you and in fact become nothing more than a spell checker.
MessagEase is better than any qwerty keyboard I have tried in so many ways I don’t really know where to start. So I will instead start with what is fundamentally wrong with the querty keyboard.
To start with it is 150 years old and was originally intended to be used with two hands! It does not belong on a mobile phone where most text input is done with one finger or two thumbs. A querty should not, in my opinion, be found on anything smaller that a tablet.
Another beef I have with all the querty keyboards I have used is the fact that so many everyday characters are hidden. There can only be used by first pressing another key (sometimes more than once) or by long pressing a key. This wastes time.
The set up I currently use – it is very customisable – allows me to enter any one of more than 110 different characters, including letters – both upper and lower case, numbers and symbols from just a small a 3*3 grid.
I never have to first press one key and then another to get an uppercase character, a number or a symbol. This allows for substantially faster typing.
The makers of ‘MessagEase’, Exideas, advertise it as ‘the worlds fastest touchscreen keyboard. ’ If you care to read on you will start to understand why.
From the center key of my keyboard (as I have it set up) all others keys (and all 110 character) are within 1-1.5 cm. If you were to write “Android Authority Rocks ” on a normal qwerty, using a standard 4″ screen in portrait, you would need to move your finger approximately 44cm. To write same with MessagEase requires you to move your finger just 17 cm. Distance waste is time wasted. Imagine how many meters and how much time you would save if you were to write a two page article.
MessageEase is not for everyone. It is, however for everyone who wants to write quickly and accurately and can invest a little learning time to save a lot of typing time.
by David Whittley
I used MessagEase in my Palm days. Thanks for reminding me, I have downloaded it and will try ASAP! They don’t seem to have as many foreign language wordsets as some applications, but we can get around that…
No love for multiling keyboard?
How can I use a physical keyboard (USB keyboard) with my Android tablet / smart phone?.
Bluetooth keyboard. I have a targus for my iphone. I had one from gadgetforiphone.com but the case makes the keys too spongy, when I tried to cut it out of the case I cut the battery. TOAST. The battery is at the top of keyboard, next time I would cut from the back.
I’ve tried all the keyboards you mentioned, and I think the GO keyboard (which I now use) is better than all of them. It has a good regular keyboard (competitive with smart keyboard), a good swiping input mode, _and_ a layout that has cursor movement keys, which aren’t needed often, but are vastly nicer then trying to peck in precisely the right spot when you need to make a correction somewhere. For some reason I can’t put my finger on, I don’t like this keyboard as much on a tablet, but on a phone it’s great.
Hacker’s keyboard is also worthy of a mention due to a much more complete set of characters and symbols and such, but unfortunately it doesn’t work as well as smart keyboard or the GO keyboard.
QWERTY on smartphones will always have buttons too tiny for accuracy. So I use the Big Buttons keyboard. Way fewer errors and learned it in just a few minutes. Numbers easier too.
Thumb keyboard the best so far for me. Blazing in speed,accuracy And of course unparalleled customization. Tried almost everything else on the market so far
Thanks worried_guy. I just installed GO keyboard and it looks really good. Not only does it look good, but my typo rate has already noticeably gone down so thank you for telling me about it.
Thanks for mentioning MessagEase, dmwhittley, I simply love it.
The best android keyboard is smart keyboard by far because it is fast and the predictions are amazing!!!
Tried all of these out, and none of them solves the basic problem that you can’t touch-type on a flat screen… it only works on pcs because you can feel the keys.
Handwriting recognition apps aren’t accurate enough to be reliable.
The only soft keyboard app that works imho is tactile keyboard from nscrybe.com… coz you can look at the text output and not the keyboard, and also coz u can hold the phone/tablet securely with both hands if you like, with the same grip used when not typing. (it’s as fast as swiftkey etc, once you get the hang of it)
link to it on google play app store is…