iOS may have finally adopted the use of third-party keyboards, but Android still leads the way when it comes to customizable, feature-packed keyboard alternatives. But how do you decide what to download? We've surveyed the Google Play store for the top options. From smarter predictive typing and highly customizable keyboard layouts to swipe typing, gesture controls and specialized layouts. Here are the 10 best Android keyboards available.
You might not expect a stock keyboard to be a contender, but Google has been continuously improving the default Android keyboard. The Google Keyboard regularly incorporates some of the latest features of other apps, such as gesture typing, particularly strong dictation that takes advantage of Google's voice search, broad language support and emoji input. It also provides support for non-standard and language specific layouts, such as Dvorak, Colemak and AZERTY. Most users will never realize that the Google keyboard has a wealth of configuration features built-in, so you'll want to dig into your device's settings menu to tweak the experience.
SwiftKey has long been a powerhouse among Android keyboards, providing extreme customizations that are both functional and cosmetic. Plus, it incorporates features such as swipe typing. In addition the variety of keyboard layouts and input options, SwiftKey offers SwiftKey Cloud, a predictive tool that can link to your social networks so that SwiftKey can learn your typing habits, right down to predictive use of emoji. The app is free, but there is an in-app store for themes and cosmetic customizations.
Another Android keyboard hot on the heels of SwiftKey is Fleksy, which comes with all the standard features such as swipe typing and an autocorrect that learns from your vocabulary. Neat features such as gesture-driven typing shortcuts for a variety of tasks like deleting words, entering new dictionary items, or cycling through or undoing corrections round out what we like. And that's not even mentioning Fleksy's numerous extensions for extra functionality, such as an optional number row, GIF support, emoji and more.
The Hub Keyboard is a Microsoft Garage project that brings users useful app integrations to the tech giant's Office ecosystem right into your device's keyboard. Hub's extension bar allows users to quickly access a clipboard, quickly grab and share URLs of of Office documents in your OneDrive cloud, and share contact information from your phone's address book or Office 365 contacts. In addition, the keyboard also builds in Bing web search, a thesaurus and a typing translator for seamlessly translating words as you type.
ai.type is an old favorite when it comes to Android keyboards, featuring staples such as smart autocorrect and predictive typing in more than 50 languages, swipe typing, configurable layouts, a variety of themes and a library of emoji built-in. The app includes dictation support, on-keyboard search and support for a variety of languages. A premium version ($3.99) removes ads and unlocks premium features.
The pioneer in gesture-based typing controls, Swype's competitive edge has been blunted as more and more keyboards have implemented their own swipe typing system. That said, Swype provides slick gesture typing, numerous keyboard layout customizations, emoji, an optional crowd-sourced dictionary of new terms and phrases and a predictive typing and learning system. Plus, you get a dictation system powered by Dragon's voice engine. Another neat feature is a gesture shortcut system for common operations such as copy and paste.
TouchPal includes most of the features of best-in-class apps for free, such as gesture typing with word prediction and autocorrect, support for multiple layouts (such as T9+ and multi-language input), as well as numerous other customizations. Users can sign up for a premium service that includes access to TouchPal Cloud for cross-device syncing of your personal dictionary and predictive typing settings, as well as cloud-enhanced typing suggestions and an extended emoji gallery.