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I’ve been using touch-screen phones for about four years now, since I got a Sony Ericsson W950i. That was a hybrid: touch screen (with stylus), and keypag (numbers, not QWERTY). After I switched to an HTC Desire, I didn’t miss the physical keyboard at all — in fact, I greatly prefer the larger screen. I do miss the stylus, but that’s a topic for another day.

Connor Turnbull gave his opinion on the issue earlier this week, in his article, Why Are We Still Using Hardware Keyboards?. Readers made great points in the comments: hardware keyboards either take up screen space or make the phone thicker; software keyboards don’t have potential hardware issues; hardware keyboards can be faster to type on.

Personally, I don’t feel that I type as fast with a software keyboard as I could with a hardware keyboard, but I do feel the typing is more natural. Gingerbread’s keyboard has great auto-correction, so I barely have to worry about typos, and Swype is fun to use (and impressive to anyone who watches over my shoulder as I text). There’s not enough value in a built-in hardware keyboard to be worth the trade-off.

Gabriel, who commented on Connor’s post, suggests that phones could be built to allow a Bluetooth keyboard to be attached, thus letting you have a slim phone with a big screen that can optionally transform to a thicker phone with a big screen and a hardware keyboard. I love this idea!

But that’s just a fantasy for now. I’d like to know what you’re using today, and whether you’re happy with it. Vote in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments.

Why Are We Still Using Hardware Keyboards? Of course, when asking that question here, i’m referring to the little keys that reside underneath certain phone’s screens – certain phones like those in RIM’s line. RIM’s future doesn’t look that good, especially with the growth in Android and iOS devices that opt for a large touchscreen in lieu of some small, tacky keys.

However, HTC took a U-turn and created the HTC ChaCha (or “the Facebook phone”, as some call it). The ChaCha is an Android 2.3.3 device that comes complete with QWERTY keyboard and dedicated Facebook buttons, even though it also features the common capacitive navigation buttons below the screen.

Is a hardware keyboard worth the cost of a smaller screen size? And why would you not just stick with the now-standard touch interface? Let’s discuss. (more…)

One of the biggest advantages of Android’s open source roots is that users have complete control over pretty much every aspect of the operating system. If you don’t like any aspect of the stock Android experience, there’s a good chance that someone somewhere has already done something about it. If you own an Android phone that is not a Nexus (One or S), you have probably already experienced this. HTC’s Sense UI and Samsung’s TouchWiz are examples of phone manufacturers’ attempts to providing device-specific Android experiences.

This is often misunderstood by the less tech-savvy, who assume that what you see is what you get. But with a few downloads, you can completely overhaul the way your phone looks and acts.

For more articles on customizing Android, check out our roundups of Awesome Live Wallpapers, Outstanding Android Themes, and Beautiful Wallpapers.


Back in January, Darren Meehan rounded up some of the best keyboards available for your Android device.

Being able to choose between different keyboards is one area where stock Android beats stock iOS. But how many of you actually use this feature? And, for those of you that do, which keyboard have you picked?

This week, we’re asking you what you use as your main keyboard. Let us know by voting in the poll, and leave a comment to share why you picked it.

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.

Language and keyboard

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…