So this has been a long time coming, and I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been patient for this release. Its only me in the office doing all of these guides and the last month has been hectic to say the least. With that out of the way I’ve compiled the 13 14 best (and possibly only? let me know in the comments if there are more) keyboards for the Android OS. For each keyboard I’ve listed:
- The keyboard’s icon
- A screenshot of the keyboard
- The price
- Supported Languages
- A QR Code if its on the market
- Our thoughts
- Our recommendations
- A video walking you through the features
- Features we would like to see in future releases.
Each Keyboard has its own section, so if you’re looking for a specific one, just scroll down until you see its title and all the relevant information will be there.
With all versions of Android 2.1 no matter the carrier’s or manufacturer’s skin, you will have this keyboard to use. It gets the job done for the most part, has the user dictionary to learn based on your typing so it knows what words to suggest, and has the usual trick of pressing a space or punctuation symbol when a word is highlighted to insert that word plus the space or punctuation symbol pressed. I won’t go in to a great amount of detail about this keyboard because of how standard it is, but I would recommend using it for a couple of days before jumping in to one of these other options if you’re new to android or smart phones in general. Every one is different and you need to get used to how to press keys on the screen before jumping in to more intermediate/advanced options.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: People new to the Android OS or smart phones in general (only use this for a couple of days though, once you’re comfortable typing, take a look at one of the options below).
Supported Languages: Whichever language you can set your phone to.
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: Swiping features to get to your numbers, long press on letters to input numbers, and color themed keys/layout/background.
If you’re looking for a standard keyboard with a nice face-lift and some convenient features, Better Keyboard is the one for you. It is the only keyboard in this review that isn’t free. It is currently listed at $2.99USD in the market and in my opinion isn’t necessarily worth it, but having said that there are some great features to the app that if you love them, three bucks is not that bad to shell out for this piece of software. It has some nice swiping features being able to go to your number pad or an entirely different keyboard very smoothly and easily. It also has the Speech-to-Text feature that’s convenient when you only have one hand to type out a message. One kind of advanced feature is being able to see dots on the keys signaling where you press each time. This would be convenient to train yourself how to and what it feels like to press a key in the center. Watch the video below for more examples of this keyboard in action.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: People who want a black background to their keyboard, people looking to train their fingers to type more accurately, people who are in love with LEET style keyboard (this keyboard is the only one that offers this style at the moment), or for anybody who really loves the swiping actions to change keyboards.
Supported Languages: English, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, and French
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: Statistics when it comes to the finger tracking dots, swipe up for capitals, swipe down for symbols, add more keyboards to swipe around to, make the keyboards you can swipe to connected on the ends so you can swipe around a circle, and suggestions for improving your typing skills based on the tracking dot reports.
Swype is a revolutionary take on how typing should be done on a soft keyboard. Instead of picking up your finger and touching each individual key you drag it between letters to input the word. A short demonstration video can be seen right below made by Swype Inc. to explain this concept visually. It currently holds the world texting record through Guinness at about 34 seconds and a British Woman just recently broke that record on a Galaxy S with about 24 seconds. Think you can do better but don’t have an invite to the Beta program? I would pay close attention to our video then for a possible chance to get in on that Beta.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: People who text more than they call, intermediate users looking for a more engaging keyboard, people who hate using two hands to type, and anyone wanting a brand new take on smart phone typing.
Supported Languages: US English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Malay, Russian, Finnish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Serbian, Czech, Greek, Polish, Indonesian, Norwegian, Icelandic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Turkish among others (over 40 languages all together).
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: Please please please add a speech to text key on the keyboard, different color layouts and swype trails, if the user changes the capitalization of a word then record that rather than recording the lowercase version every time, and if you have time integrate some kind of next word prediction based on the word you just typed as seen in SwiftKey and TouchPal.
TouchPal isn’t the most widely used/known soft keyboard ever, but it brings some heavy hitting features to the table. It has multiple keyboards, english to chinese instant translations, emoticon database, ability to update the dictionary based on trend words in their online database, and it can scan your contacts and sms messages for people with obscure names or slang you type often. It also offers a limited prediction feature similar to SwiftKey. Finally instead of long pressing for symbols or pressing the shift button for uppercase letters, you can just touch a letter/key and swipe up or down for those options, which is very quick and convenient. Watch the tutorial video below to see this bad boy in action.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: People who are trying to learn to read and write in Chinese whose native language is English, people who read/write in both Chinese and English and want the option to type in both, and anyone who wants word prediction based on previous word and multiple keyboards unlike SwiftKey that only has the former.
Supported Languages: English, Chinese PinYin, Chinese Bihua, Chinese Wubi, Russian, Swedish, Portuguese, and Ukrainian.
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: Sometimes there isn’t a capital letter when we start to type a message, support adding hyphenated words to the dictionary, if it’s even possible have a chinese text keyboard that suggests english words based on what you’re typing and finally a speech to text option (the other keyboards are going to murder you unless you add this).
SwiftKey Beta is the best prediction keyboard I’ve ever used hands down. It’s general prediction feature works about 40% of the time in guessing the word you’ll type next and it features a speech-to-text key which I think no keyboard should be without. Everything is really easy to use with this app and I would imagine it would be on the same wavelength as you if you get it a couple weeks to analyze your texting style. As always watch the walkthrough video below to see it in action.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: People who text the same phrase a lot but don’t want to bother with templates, users who like the idea of your keyboard predicting your next word based on your previous word, and anyone who wants to upgrade from the stock keyboard.
Supported Languages: English-US ,English-UK, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, and Dutch.
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: Multiple keyboards perhaps that predict stuff like o’clcok or am/pm after inputting times etc, emoticon prediction if used a lot in txt messages, display more than 3 prediction words in that bar for greater accuracy, and different color layouts.
ThickButtons is one of the most interesting approaches to a soft keyboard I’ve ever had the chance to use. I have fingers that are sometime difficult to use with the normal spaced keyboards and so using this particular plug-in was a blessing at times. You can change how much the next predicted letter will expand by (has small, medium, and large settings) in the settings options and this keyboard also has word correction along with most of the other standard options talked about above built in. It would have been more of a winner if it had a speech-to-text key on it, but this keyboard does fulfill a niche market’s dreams of keys their fingers can press comfortably.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: People who have trouble typing on touch screens, users who have fingers that are larger than average, and anyone who wants to switch from the stock keyboard.
Supported Languages: English.
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: Faster response from pressing space/punctuation key when a word is highlighted orange, faster response when selecting the correct word from the bar above, maybe have a mode where if the user never types any slang then you black out all the keys you don’t think they will use next instead of greying them out and fill the screen with the other letters, and finally a speech to text option (the other keyboards are going to murder you unless you add this).
All thanks and credit for this keyboard goes to jonasl, Cyanogen, modaco, and JesusFreke of the XDA Developers Forum. They have created a highly customizable keyboard that both basic and advanced users alike can enjoy. You can check out the original post of this keyboard here: http://bit.ly/a8D7CC. With that said, this keyboard is a beast. With options that allow you to customize the height and width of each key plus the ability to share all your settings with friends or users online, this keyboard definitely has the most settings out of any reviewed in this article. Check out the video below to see it in action, and hit up that QR Code up top to get whisked away to jonasl’s forum post that has the download links.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: Fans of the HTC keyboard but want more options or anyone looking to literally make their keyboard one of a kind.
Supported Languages: English, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portugese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: I honestly can’t think of any option this thing of beauty doesn’t have. If you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments.
MessagEase is one of the only keyboards we’ve reviewed with a bunch of patents to back up its madness. The madness we’re talking about is the crazy fast speeds you can type on this keyboard after getting used to its alphabet rubix cube style layout. While this keyboard doesn’t have the depth of settings that the others in the series do, it more than makes up for that in its creative design and input method. Take a look at our video below to see it in action or go here to play around with an in-browser version to see what its all about (also I know the demo is on an iPhone, I’m not happy about it either, but don’t get crazy on me in the comments.)
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: Anyone looking to type the fastest possible on their keyboard, users who don’t want other people typing on their phone (trust me this keyboard will confuse the f*ck out of them), or anyone switching to Android that loved this keyboard on other devices.
Supported Languages: English.
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: A settings option to change around the layout or colors and the side bar containing cut/copy/paste/directional arrows like the computer version has.
SlideIT is a great keyboard for anyone who loves the swipe style input. The layout is simple, it has a plethora of features, and offers some great shortcuts to its main rival Swype. While this keyboard is the most expensive out of all the keyboards in this article, it is a nice alternative to Swype if you don’t have an invite to that or don’t like it. It also features shortcut keywords, for example typing or swiping out ADN will give you a suggested input of “any day now”. Another great feature aspect of this keyboard are all the languages it supports. You can find that information plus a full walkthrough video below, enjoy!
(here is the link to the user’s guide which has all the shortcut words it comes pre-installed with http://bit.ly/cv2oLY )
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: Anyone looking to have a keyboard in their native language that other keyboards don’t support, want an alternative to Swype, want shortcut keywords, or anyone who enjoys the swipe type of input.
Supported Languages: Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Dutch [AZERTY], English, Estonian, Finnish, French, French [QWERTY], French [QWERTZ], German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenien, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: Nothing comes to mind, but let us know in the comments if you spot an area where SlideIT can improve.
While the Smart Keyboard Pro looks like your run of the mill Android keyboard, it is anything but! With great features like non-full screen keyboard in landscape or swiping gestures to change keyboards, you really can’t go wrong using this as your daily typer. It offers a total of 3 keyboards: QWERTY, T9, or compact. Also look below for a second at all the languages this keyboard supports. THIS THING IS A LANGUAGE POWERHOUSE. If you’ve been on the fence about coughing up 3 bucks for this bad boy, check out the video below to see just how worth it, it really is!
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: Anybody who wants a clean layout to a keyboard, users who hate full screen mode when typing in landscape view, swipe gestures for changing keyboard layouts, or if you want a medium to advanced level customizable keyboard.
Supported Languages: Arabic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Czech (QWERTY), Czech (QWERTZ), Danish, German, German (+aou), Greek, English, English (International), English (Dvorak), English (AZERTY), Spanish, French, French (QWERTY), French (QWERTY+’), French (QWERTZ), Korean, Hebrew, Croatian, Icelandic, Italian, Italian (+’), Georgian, Hungarian, Dutch (QWERTY), Dutch, (AZERTY), Norwegian, Polish, Porutguese, Romanian, Russian, Russian (small), Russian (phonetic), Slovene, Serbian, Finnihs, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukranian.
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: None that I can think of? Anybody wanna give them suggestions in the comments?
The Graffiti input system was originally written by Palm and was released on a couple of devices including: HP’s OmniGo 120, Apple’s Newton MessagePad, and other early Palm devices. It forms letters and words through the user drawing symbols (usually just the letter itself) on the touchscreen interface. Graffiti was recently released for the Android OS and we couldn’t wait to give it a test run.
The UI has been significantly updated, but anyone who has used this input system before will feel right at home as all the symbols and shortcut gestures are the same making it easy for experienced users to jump in. It also features 6 easily accessible help screens just by swiping up on the keyboard to educate new users on the different gestures available. The system of gestures are a little tricky to get used to, so watch the video below to see all the features of Graffiti in action.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: Anyone who loved this input method on their Palm device back in the day, anyone who wants to try out new methods of inputs, or users who are trying to hone their speed skills on Android keyboards.
Supported Languages: English (can do Romaji/Kanji though)
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: I’m not completely familiar with how Graffiti used to work, so if there are some changes they made to it that you hate or changes that were promised 5 years ago that never came to life, let us know about them in the comments.
(12/14) FlexT9 (formerly known as ShapeWriter) ($5 USD)
So I was lucky enough to talk with the kind people over at Nuance Technologies about their upcoming keyboard for the Android OS: T9 Trace. If you didn’t already know, Nuance technologies are the original creators of the T9 typing system. They’ve taken it a step beyond word prediction with their latest creation, and I’ll be getting my hands on a demo unit soon and will post a video of it in action ASAP. For now check out my notes below on this upcoming and exciting keyboard for Android OS.
So T9 trace is similar to SlideIT and Swype in that you swipe between keys to write on the screen. It will be able to do 2 languages simultaneously while swiping and supports 85 global languages which is the most out of any keyboard in this article. It also offers a unique trace and type hybrid system. For example if you’re tracing the word unfortunately, and you have a lapse in memory at the “n”, you can stop swiping and type out the rest of the word. Instead of inserting a space, typing will actually edit the last word swiped making “swipe editing” quick and convenient.
It also combines some SwiftKey type features when handling double letters. For example you would swipe g-o-d for god and good. Based on what you’ve typed previously it will insert either god or good. For example swiping “oh my” and then g-o-d will get you “oh my god”. Swiping “the food was really” and then g-o-d will get you “the food was really good”. The software supports conjunctions in this manner too so swiping t-h-e-y-r-e will automatically insert the apostrophe.
While swiping works on the standard QWERTY keyboard, it will also be functional on their 9-key keyboard as well. It has the ability to search your contacts to add their names to the dictionary and will use different dictionaries and predict different words depending on what type of input field you’re in i.e. messages, html address bar, etc. Finally an exciting service called T9 Nav will eventually be incorporated into the T9 trace software allowing your phone to search all its contents for new dictionary words.
Again we’ll post video as soon as we get a test unit, but for now enjoy the screenshots below.
Release Date for Android: Out now!!
Not much is known about BlindType other than the demo videos shown below and that it was recently acquired by Google. The premise is though that the keyboard can be virtually placed anywhere on the screen and adapts to your unique typing style. This means that you can just type anywhere on the phone from any direction (using your memory to think of where each key is) and BlindType somehow knows what you’re trying to type. Its still a little bit shady to me, and until we test it for ourselves I’m not too sure how well it will work. To be amazed though, definitely take a couple minutes to watch the video below, it will literally blow your mind.
Release Date for Android: No one knows for sure. We tried to get a hold of BlindType before Google came in and acquired them so now our chances are even smaller unfortunately. We’re always looking out for news on this incredibly application though so make sure to check back on this article and www.careace.net for more news as it becomes available about BlindType.
A HUGE shoutout goes to hotaru and any other developers over on the XDA Forums for porting this amazing keyboard to the other flavors of Android. As you can see the layout is very basic, but the response is great and feels similar to that of the keyboard for WP7. The pressing is very fluid and even using our bigger bear paw fingers we still managed to type what we wanted to say flawlessly.
The keyboard also has great features like tapping a word to edit it. This allows you to click anywhere on the word you just spelled or spelled anywhere in your text field and have the original orange suggestions pop-up. For example when I click on viewers in the video below it automatically brings up the suggested words like viewer, viewed, viewing, and etc. This makes for quick and easy editing.
The keyboard also allows for Gingerbread style highlighting and copy/pasting of text as well. Finally another highlight of the keyboard is the ability to seamlessly switch language preferences by first enabling them in settings and then swiping through them on the space bar at the bottom of the screen. You can download the keyboard via the QR Code above or go to the XDA Forum post about it here.
Recommended Types of Users for this Keyboard: Anyone looking to take advantage of the features found in Android Gingerbread 2.3 ahead of the update schedule.
Supported Languages: BG, CS, CZ, DA, DE, EN, ES, FI, FR, IT, NB, NL, PL, PT, RU, SL, and SV
If the developers of this keyboard are reading this, we would like to see these features added in the next release: Nothing actually, we loved this keyboard to death!
So that’s our review on what we feel are the top 14 soft keyboards you can use with the Android OS. If you have a suggestion for another one we should review, mention it in the comments below or send us an email and we’ll look into reviewing it and adding it to this article. Let us know what you think in the comments!