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8 Top Android Keyboard Apps

8 Top Android Keyboard Apps

Back when smartphones were just beginning to emerge, I remember telling myself that I’d never like an on-screen keyboard. I was convinced that they’d never be as efficient as a physical keyboard. Obviously, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Android’s openness supports and encourages end-user customization, which has thankfully resulted in many great options for Android keyboards. Really, there’s something for everyone.

Check out the 8 Top Android Keyboard Apps listed below:

Swiftkey

Employs advanced AI (Artificial Intelligence) to make typing “smart, fast, and personal.” Next word prediction, which auto-learns the more you use it, can save you a tremendous number of keystrokes. You can even allow SwiftKey to learn from your text messages, to make its predictions that much more accurate. As an example, I can now type, “I will be home around 5″ in 7 keystrokes. Invaluable time-savings. Price: $2.99

Swype

Enables text input by tracing the word with a single continuous finger motion. Even better, the built-in intelligence allows you to correctly generate the intended word without exactly hitting each letter. Swype  is extremely easy to learn because it utilizes a standard QWERTY keyboard. Many newer Android phones like the Galaxy S and MyTouch 4G have Swype pre-installed. Swype is currently in Beta (still, which is closed), so if you haven’t downloaded it already, you’ll have to be patient. Price: Free (Beta closed)

SlideIt

Utilizes similar text input method as Swype; slide along letters to form words. The great benefit to this Android keyboard app is its extensive support for other languages (available for free download from the Android Market). Additionally, you can quickly switch between language keyboards for efficient communication with multiple parties. The suggestion bar above the keyboard is also more convenient and accessible than the popup utilized by Swype, although it does occupy more screen real-estate. Price: ~$8.15

ThickButtons

An innovative keyboard which adjusts the size of certain letters depending on what you’ve already entered. This enlarges/highlights the letters you are likely to type next, while shrinking those you aren’t. It employs the predictive technology you’ve come to expect, but in a unique fashion. While it aides textual input by making the desired keys easier to find, it can also take some adjusting to as letters may seem to “move” from the accustomed location. Price: Free

Smart Keyboard

A fully-featured “standard” Android keyboard with a clean interface. Supports a large number of custom skins and languages that enable extensive personalization. Bottom line, the true value in this app manifests itself in the great number of options. Price: ~$2.65

Better Keyboard

Very similar to Smart Keyboard in that it offers support for many languages and a huge list of available fonts and themes. Predictions, smooth input, and full customizations. This Android keyboard has been around for quite some time and has quite a large support base. Price: $2.99

Ultra Keyboard

A fancy take on the Android keyboard, with multiple layout options, tracing support like in Swype and SlideIt, and within-app translation support. It’s surprisingly easy to use all of the features that are packed into this app. If you can’t decide whether you like typing or tracing letters to input text, Ultra Keyboard is a convenient compromise that’ll efficiently let you perform both.

8pen

A gratuitous addition to this list of top Android keyboard apps, 8pen is an innovative, imaginative method for on-screen text input. In essence, think of a modern-day version of the rotary dial phone. You start at the center, enter a quadrant, then “rotate” to select the letter you want, and return to the center. Repeat this for each letter. Conveniently, an additional display is shown above the input area, so that you can see what letter is currently selected. This display serves as an excellent learning tool. Eventually, you’ll be able to enter text without looking, although the learning curve is very steep (and this will deter many new users). Price: Free

Conclusion:

Presented above are 8 of the best options for Android keyboard apps, although there are undoubtedly more options. Each offers its own interface, set of features, variation on text-input, etc. In order to narrow this list down further, it’ll depend on how you use your on-screen keyboard, as well as personal preference. Do you use the Android keyboard most in landscape or portrait mode? With one or two-hands? Some of these options will be best in one format but not the other. Test each out and let us know what Android keyboard you decide on!

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14 Comments

  1. I’ve tried Swype and Better Keyboard, but the keyboard I use everyday is SwiftKey. Easily the best virtual keyboard, I’ll be loading it onto my new Android tablet when it arrives. Amazingly good text prediction, though there are some things I wish it’d learn faster…for example, my wife’s (uncommon) name doesn’t come up as an option until I’ve typed the whole thing. That said, like the reviewer notes, I generally can type an email, tweet, or facebook update quickly and with few keystrokes using the preditcted text.

  2. I’ve been using Ultra Keyboard. Since I migrated from the old BB Storm (worst phone ever produced), I found that the two-letter-per-key arrangement was the best hybrid for my bulky fingers, and happens to be the same arrangement as my storm’s SureType.

  3. 8pen is really hard at the beginning, but it’s very nice when you get used to! and it’s the most different input method =)

  4. Smart keyboard pro all the way! Love it. Swype is something I’m trying to learn, and I definitely wouldn’t call it easy. But I see its speed potential!

  5. Just tried SlideIt. Perfect … and with all the language packs, it is just great! My keyboard from now on (working on a Nexus One).

    Btw. I used to work with TouchPal Chinese till now. I don’t know a word in chinese, but that’s the name and you could easily disable chinese keyboard and use jsut the english one.

  6. 8Pen would have to rate as one of the WORST apps – it falls into the category of “applied geekness for the sake of perceived mastery”. Three major failings… 1. You are learning a unique method of input that will have no “cross-platform” application. Ever. Unlike typing, which comes in handy quite often. 2. One digit performing a “tap-circle-tap-circle” routine will NEVER match the speed of “tap-tap” – let alone the speed of two-thumb tapping. 3. You will NEVER need the ability to take notes “without looking”. In any case, you still have to look to find the center for each letter. In all, it’s like race-walking… sure, you can master it, but why get really fast at something that will still be slower than everything else?

    • The point of using 8pen is not perceived mastery or geekness, it’s speed.

      Your misconception that you have to “tap-circle-tap-circle” may make it seem slow, but you’re not supposed to use it like that. You’re only supposed to take your thumb or finger off of the screen to start a new word. You return to the center after each letter, and continue, only removing your thumb to insert a space (the program can insert a space automatically upon lifting the finger, or wait for a quick tap on the center, whichever the user prefers). When you get good at knowing where the letters are, it’s much faster and more accurate than one-digit tap typing.

      And you do not have to look at the screen each time to find the center. Your thumb will automatically know where the middle of the circle is within less than 5 minutes of using the interface, unless you’re the most uncoordinated person on the planet, and the haptic feedback shakes slightly every time you touch the middle just to remind you that you’re in the right place, and haven’t slid up or down by accident.

      Your comment only tells me that you made a needlessly harsh comment about a cool, useful thing just because you didn’t take the time to learn to use it at all. It’s obvious that you didn’t understand how it was intended to be used, nor did you spend more than a few minutes with it, because you had not developed the sense to know when your thumb has succesfully touched the center of the screen, or to realize that you do not have to tap again between each letter.

      • I have to agree that the 8pen scheme is inherently inefficient. It requires you to move your finger around a lot more and trace a much longer and more complex path on the screen to type a word than the Swype-style sliding interface does. I applaud the 8pen developers for trying something new, and the typing tutor they offer is a great way to learn the system, but it’s just not nearly as fast as other typing methods. If those other methods didn’t use prediction to improve speed and accuracy then 8pen might be able to compare, but they do, and it can’t.

  7. I use the Smart Keyboard Pro on a regular basis and love it. My second choice would be TouchPal. This keyboard normally gets overlooked by reviewers, but it’s quite good. One big advantage is that it allows you to swipe through three different styles of keyboards within the layout, so you don’t have to go into settings to change.
    I’ve tried the rest of the keyboards listed and I’m really not a fan of Swype or SlideIt. To me these two seem to be throw backs to the old stylist days, where you could actually see the key that you were sliding or swiping to.
    lastly, I will say that the Swift Keyboard is pretty great too.

  8. I am using “Perfect Keyboard”
    I love this keyboard because it is Super customizable!
    Super customizable and has everything I wanted in a keyboard.
    I tried to use swipe and 8 pen but I didn’t like it. It is hard to get use to it.

  9. I am using “Perfect Keyboard”
    I love this keyboard because it is Super customizable!
    Super customizable and has everything I wanted in a keyboard.
    I tried to use swipe and 8 pen but I didn’t like it. It is hard to get use to it.

  10. Works good

  11. Love the key board.

  12. Your message…I use the keyboard at low Q2 the store is extremely fast customizable key colors key height todoo funds. I found my perfect keyboard ♥ ☆ These symbols are on the keyboard
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fiberthemax.OpQ2keyboard

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