18 Comments

Summary:

A mobile keyboard plays a big role in determining how productive a smartphone can be for tasks involving text entry. I’ve used many keyboards for Android, and Ultra Keyboard is heads and shoulders above the pack. This video shows the major features of the app.

Ultra Keyboard landscape

The number of apps available in the Android Market is growing daily, and keyboard apps are well represented. A mobile keyboard plays a big role in determining how productive a smartphone can be for tasks involving text entry for text messaging, email and web surfing. I’ve tried so many third-party keyboards for Android that I can no longer remember how many I’ve installed, but Ultra Keyboard is head and shoulders above the pack.

Ultra Keyboard takes the best features of the other keyboards and crams them into a single app that can be tailored to suit the individual user. If you prefer keyboards that let you slide your finger over the keys to spell works (Swype), it can do that. If you like tapping keys one letter at a time, Ultra Keyboard has you covered. All the features you expect in a keyboard are rolled up into the app, and they can be configured to work exactly as desired.

This 10-minute video shows the major features of Ultra Keyboard in action, from the swiping and tapping to the translation of text on the fly. It shows how well the keyboard works in both portrait and landscape orientations, and how the keyboard can be changed on-the-fly to fit particular needs. It even shows how the phone camera can be used with the keyboard. There is a free trial available, and the full version is $2.79 in the Android Market.

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  1. Wow! that looks perfect! I have downloaded some of the others and always ended up deleting them but this one looks as good as a keyboard could be. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’m surprised you didn’t make a bigger deal about swiping plus speech to text on the same keyboard. For some time I have been thinking this would be the logical next step in Android keyboards and I’ve been eagerly waiting for Swype to release one.

    1. It was hard enough cramming all the major features in a 10 minute video. :)

  3. I have checked out several keyboards and thisone is by far the best. Great job JK, I missed this one. This keyboard is packed with every available option you could ever need or want. Thanks!

  4. That’s definitely a loaded feature set for an on-screen keyboard, but I still prefer the feel of a real hardware keyboard that doesn’t hog my screen while I type.

  5. Thanks for the review. Ultra Keyboard is very useful, and I will be adding it to my Droid.

    However for bulk text entry I think I still prefer SwiftKey. I don’t know if it’s because I tend to write the same phrases, but SwiftKey can significantly reduce the number of key presses needed to enter a sentence.

    I do like Ultra Keyboard’s options, especially the cursor keys, and the reconfigurability is great. I’ll see over the coming days if Ultra Keyboard replaces SwiftKey as my default keyboard.

  6. How can I get that theme? Thanks for the review :)

    1. It’s done through an assortment of apps/widgets that I covered here:

      http://jkontherun.com/2010/09/13/top-android-apps-to-customize-your-phone/

  7. Oh man, I got all pumped up for the camera and then it let me down. I was hoping for a OCR-type of set up such as taking a picture of a business card or snipping some text from a book and having it pasted directly into a text. Maybe I’ll do a feature request.

  8. One day into it and I don’t think I’ll go back to Swype. Wow, thanks, JK. I hadn’t heard about this anywhere else and probably wouldn’t have found it without your post yesterday.

  9. Take a look at Refine Efficiency (http://refineandroid.doodlekit.com/)
    Fast, Simple utility:
    – task killer (less clicks than in ATK Free);
    – cache cleaner (root and non root(individually));
    – market history cleaner;
    – start up manager (bootable apps are highlighted);
    – strong scheduling features;
    – 1 click maintenance button.
    Also browser history cleaner.

  10. It’s OK, but the Droid X keyboard works much better on my EVO…

  11. Thanks James for the awesome review, and thanks everyone for the great comments! I would have never known about it had someone not mentioned it in an email.

    ahow628: I really like the OCR idea, and to be honest, I tried to implement it months ago. I wasn’t having much luck, though. I pulled off a prototype, but it was frustratingly inaccurate. I think I used one of the popular open-source OCR libraries.

  12. This looks really great. I am going to try it out right now. Thanks for the review.

  13. I purchased Ultra Keyboard as a replacement for Swype when I upgraded to a Nexus One, but I haven’t been all that happy with the purchase. My review on Market: “Good, but not as good as Swype. Overly complex and buggy.”
    I expected Ultra Keyboard to be like Swype out of the box. Instead I got lots of bizarre results. I checked Settings, but found them complex and hard to understand. I got so frustrated that I seriously considered switching to SlideIT.
    I’ve since found that Settings can be adjusted to make Ultra Keyboard work more predictably like Swype, but it’s been an unnecessarily painful process, and when an IT professional like me is frustrated, there’s little hope for the average person.
    Basic and Advanced modes in Settings might help, but what I think Ultra Keyboard really needs is a set of Profiles to make it easy to configure in various ways, including one for “Swype like”. One set of defaults does not serve all types of users.
    John

  14. Anybody got this to work with the Droid Incredible?

  15. I’ve installed ultra keyboard and I’m very content. But I miss a TAB-Key. Where can I find such a TABULATOR-KEY?

  16. Hi,
    I have been using the Crocodile Keyboard for a while on my HTC Hero.
    The screen size is quite small and the triangular layout really makes a big difference. The colour change option works really well and its nice to use a simple uncomplicated keyboard where you can actually see and hit the keys you want and not have to rely on some predictive text.
    Go to http://www.crocodilekeyboards.com or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_7nPewWyzc&feature=youtube_gdata for the vid.

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