Android has thousands of brilliant apps for all sorts of different uses, from apps to find where you parked your car, to apps for your personal trainers. One set of apps that many people over look though, is possibly the most used application on their phone: their keyboard.
While many of the different keyboards are similar, an app used as much as this needs to be suited as much as possible to your typing style. Finding the best keyboard could save you a lot of time, as well as embarrassing errors in your text!
How to change your keyboard
To change your keyboard after installing a new one, go to settings > Language and Keyboard, and then check your desired keyboard to enable it to be used.
Once you have any desired keyboards selected, you can then choose it as your default keyboard for input, you can also choose what keyboard to use whenever you’re writing by pressing and holding your finger on the text box for a few seconds.
Now that you know how to switch keyboards, read on to find out which to try out…
Without a doubt the most innovative keyboard app out for Android; instead of conventional keys, the app features a small wheel which is used by dragging your finger around the different segments to select each letter. 8Pen uses the notion that keyboards on a small mobile screen are well too small to comfortably type on. Being so innovative, 8Pen is hard to use, and will take a good amount of work to get up to speed with.
Coined “the fastest keyboard for the Android,” MessagEase boasts keys 3.5 times larger than most regular Android QWERTY keyboards. It’s an interesting app which, quite like 8Pen, aims to make typing on a small screen easier by using swipes to select lesser used letters, while keeping the interface simpler than that of 8pen. The learning curve isn’t that steep, as the layout is very intuitive and it’s clear where they letters are. Its only a matter of getting used to MessagEase and building up speed with it.
To ease and speed up learning this new way to type, the developers created a game called MessagEase Game, which is free on the Android Market. While MessagEase looks weird when you first see it, as the developers say, you’ll soon appreciate the weird layout, as everything is laid out in such an intuitive way. Although it tries something new, MessagEase is pretty easy to get used to!
If you decide to try this app, the MessagEase Game is a great way to settle in to using this keyboard!
Price: Free (in beta)
This is stylish, using hexagon shaped keys and a layout designed for easy single finger typing. The change from the usual square shaped keys is interesting, but the change from the standard QWERTY layout hinders fast typing.
One point which may put people off is the lack of a dictionary or predictive text.
As this app’s name suggests, it’s a smarter keyboard than most others, boasting a high amount of advanced settings enabling you to tweak the keyboard to suit your exact way and preference of typing.
It uses a normal QWERTY layout, and gives you an amazing amount of different settings — including a smart dictionary, which learns the frequency of words you type to improve suggestions and will even add new words to your dictionary if you so wish.
Price: €1.99 (with free trial available)
On first using SwiftKey it’s clear the amount of development that has gone into this app; the design is superb. The true magic of this keyboard is in its text prediction, whose accuracy improves at an incredible speed the more you use it. When you first run it, it scans your previously sent texts to get an idea of how you type, and from that point on it uses artificial intelligence to guess what words you are likely to be entering.
Despite using a normal QWERTY keyboard it’s quite easy to type on whether using one or two hands.
Price: $1.99 – January offer (free trial available)
Using a QWERTY layout this is a simple but easy to use keyboard. It also includes a compact layout which you can easily switch to by swiping to the right; swipe left to get back to the normal QWERTY layout.
Better Keyboard also allows you to download and use different fonts to use for your keyboard — some nice personalisation!
Price: €2.24 (with a free version available)
The keyboard to be shipped with stock Gingerbread (Android version 2.3), it’s a finely tweaked keyboard, honed to near perfection and efficiency – within the limits a normal QWERTY keyboard has on a small phone screen.
Differs from the other keyboards mentioned in this post. Wifi Keyboard, as you’re probably guessing from the title, allows you to connect your phone to your PC through Wifi (there’s a USB option too) to let you use your computer’s keyboard to type on your handset. An interesting idea, which works quite well!
Much like 8Pen and MessagEase, Flit Keyboard doesn’t use a conventional keyboard layout. Instead it has 8 main keys, each with up to 8 different characters which you can type by swiping in its direction from the centre of the key. It aims to help improve typing accuracy without relying on auto-correction, something some users will miss.
Price: Lite version available
Has a mountain of different options available, which include Math Symbols, fast words, fast messages, setting up of emotions, different themes and (as the name suggests) swiping, which I found very easy to use. Tswipe also features a wifi keyboard much like the earlier Wifi Keyboard app!
Supports English and Thai.
Price: $3.99; free version available
Possibly the weirdest app you’ve ever tried to use, and even when you get used to it… it’s still weird! It’s a highly experimental interface, and though quite interesting, it’s not really cut out for daily use.
Dasher works by sliding your finger and aiming it at the next desired letter, for example in the below seenshot I’m just after writing “Hello” and I’m about to select the space (the square icon). Once I’ve scrolled right enough to select the space, I’ll then decide to choose the next letter. Dasher thinks I want an m, t or i the most – so they get the middle, priority spot. Its really something you have to try to userstand fully!
Despite being in closed beta, Swype is a highly polished keyboard, with a great user interface and text predication. As the name Swype suggests you can swipe your finger across the screen as a method of typing — something which works quite well. You can also type normally if you so wish as Swype uses a standard QWERTY keyboard. Swype is also shipped on some phones, you could be lucky!
AnySoftKeyboard uses a pretty standard QWERTY keyboard, though one which is well laid out for Android-sized screens. The shortcuts to emoticons, numbers and symbols are easy to use too.
HTC Keyboard (HTC IME)
Owners of HTC Androids love to boast of their superior HTC Sense and keyboard. Theres no need to be envious any longer as the great guys over at the XDA forums have built a port of the keyboard with a few of their own added tweaks.
Though not a keyboard as such, it is a surprisingly accurate way to input information into your phone! Google Voice allows you to use your voice as the input method; although it’s not always right it is getting better and is already at a usable level of quality.
Not actually a keyboard, but a cool way to put them through their paces: myTextSpeed is a great app for tracking the speed of your typing. Giving results in WPM and CPM (words/characters per minute), it also shows your accuracy.
Price: Free (with a donate version without adverts €0.74)
Whichever keyboard you decide to stick with depends on your style of writing and general preference. Many of the featured keyboards have free versions or trials which you can use so I recommend downloading whichever ones appealed to you the most in this post, and trying them all out.