Top 5 Android Keyboard Apps

16 Comments

Smartphones are intensely personal things — the contests that often occur online over which one is better is proof positive of that. Phones today are full mobile computers, and owners are creating more content on them than ever before. The content creation makes the keyboard very important, and with most of the top smartphones lacking a physical QWERTY model, the onscreen touch keyboard takes on a big role.

Owners of phones running the Android platform (s goog) have a lot of options in this area, as developers have stepped up to the plate and produced good alternatives to the keyboard apps shipping on the phones. Here are the top five keyboard apps for the Android platform. These keyboard apps fall into two categories: typical “tap typing” apps and the “swiping” keyboards where words are entered by spelling them with a single stroke on the screen.

TouchPal. TouchPal is highly configurable, and makes use of a unique sliding keyboard motif. The app has QWERTY keyboards, number keypads and other layouts that can be switched by swiping left and right on the keyboard. It has language packs for more than 20 languages, and multiple packs can be installed for those who work in more than one language. TouchPal uses sophisticated text prediction that is quite good at guessing what word is being entered. A simple tap enters the word, eliminating the need to type it completely. Free (until September 30).

SwiftKey. This keyboard app is a standard QWERTY style that relies on text prediction to make entry faster by eliminating the need to enter all the characters for many words. It’s uncanny how accurately SwiftKey can guess what word is being entered. The user simply taps the word as soon as it appears on the screen, usually after typing just the first or second letter. The app utilizes gestures on the keyboard to execute common tasks, like deleting words entered incorrectly. SwiftKey is currently in beta and is free.

Better Keyboard. This app is a simple keyboard that is skinnable, making it possible to change the appearance of the QWERTY keyboard to match user preferences. The buttons are large and easier to type than those on many keyboards, and gestures are implemented to make operation easy. Long-pressing the 123 key pops up the settings menu for easy access to change operation of Better Keyboard. There are a variety of alternate skins available for free download in the Android Market. $2.99.

Swype. As the name of this app implies, it’s a QWERTY keyboard where words are entered by swiping them on the screen. Instead of typing letters, words are entered by moving the finger (swiping) from the first letter to the last in one clean stroke. The app determines the desired word from the swiping motion and enters it into the active text box. This method makes text entry faster than the tap typing method of other keyboards, and the app is quite accurate at determining the correct word even if the user doesn’t quite cover all the letters perfectly. It’s in closed beta, and the developer occasionally opens it up to new users. Swype is normally preinstalled on some Android phones, such as the Motorola (s mot) Droid X.

SlideIT. This keyboard app is very similar to Swype, as words are entered via the same swiping motion. SlideIT supports multiple languages, enabled by downloading packs from the Android Market. The app accurately determines the desired word, even if the swiping doesn’t quite hit the correct letters. This keyboard is a good alternative to the Swype keyboard, and is readily available in the Android Market. There is a free demo version available, and a paid version (£5.99), but it’s not clear what features the paid version adds over the free version.

These keyboards are all great examples of the innovation that Android developers bring to the platform. As mentioned, the keyboard is an intensely personal app and no one style will appeal to everyone. If you have a favorite keyboard app not mentioned in the list, please share it in the comments.

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16 Comments

Terry Braverman

I would like to try TouchPal but it does not feature in the Market of my Xperia X10 Mini Pro. How can I ret it as I do not know how to download apps to the phone other than through Market.

TSwipe

Tswipe-Pro ( http://www.tswipe.com )
Has a mountain of different options available, which include Math Symbols, fast words, fast messages, setting up of emotions, different themes and (as the name suggests) swiping, which I found very easy to use. Tswipe also features a wifi keyboard much like the earlier Wifi Keyboard app!
Supports English and Thai but on developing japanese, spanish right now.

Price: $3.99; free version available by turn off swipe

fercho suth

i have purchased a BLUE TANGO android phone. I love sms but i haye the qwerty keyboard ( only i love the qwerty in my old blackberry 7290) before the BLU i has a SAMSUNG CHAMP and the sms writing are so fast. When i try send sms with the android qwerty keyboard, an i really think trow the phone against the wall jjjj. I look several types of keyboards but all said can get your data and send to something. no way. but i discover you can change to numeric in android long pressing the 123 button. wow now im so happy. the bad: THE SMILE ICON AT THE END, AND THE SPACE AT THE RIGTH, THIS MAY BE THE SPACE AT THE END.

AndroidConvert

I have used all 5 of these (and many others) at one time or another, but Keypurr was introduced in December 2010, and it has become my favorite after a few weeks.

The concept is quite simple, but using it for just a week really showed me the difference is in the details – I’m so much faster on this than any other keyboard I’ve tried. Big keys, great prediction, really fast and easy access to numbers and symbols, and a few unique features like programmable function keys.

When I was using Swype or SlideIT it seemed fast, but once I started using Keypurr, there was no comparison. My theory is that the swipe/slide keyboards kept me entertained so I didn’t notice the amount of time it took and the effort to correct mistakes. :-)

Aliona

I have not found any of Keyboard with fast typing possibility and without all LATIN accent characters in one layout. First keyboard in market with all characters in one layout is “Keyboard on demand”. Enough to long press on character and all symbols showed in popup menu. Here also added symbols not included inside hardware G1 keyboard. This keyboard quite new and have not many layouts. Would me nice to have compact layout

Dan

A new entry out there is SlydeBoard.

While it lacks auto-completion, nothing types EXACTLY what you do better.

It’s for touch typists. Use two thumbs to type blazingly fast!

Eric

I’m using Swype and have been since I got into the closed beta. I will gladly pay for Swype — assuming it’s under $15.00 — once it is available for purchase. Its only drawbacks in my opinion are (1) no dedicated speech-to-text button, and (2) occasionally gets some words wrong (but all other apps do as well). Whenever I re-flash my ROM or update my Droid (which is pretty often, since I fiddle with it a lot) I put Swype back on it first. Right after CoPiPe, which I use as well for input.

dan

I strongly prefer slide-type keyboards, for speed without physical keys. Of the three slide-type solutions interestingly enough only one is presently available. My assessment:

SWYPE: Beta CLOSED just as I got my android; it is not available as beta or for purchase, so (1) I cannot evaluate SWYPE, (2) it has no value to any of us at this time.

SHAPEWRITER: Like it generally, though: (1) no voice-to-text capability, (2) shortcuts like “cut”,”copy”,”paste” should be MUCH simplified, (3) Nuance, the owner of Shapewriter, haven’t done/announced anything publically since they withdrew the beta in June (you can still download the beta, however, which you cannot do with SWYPE). I do like the @ key on the main page, and ability to press-and-hold keys to get numbers and some special characters.

SLIDEIT: I am using the beta, and like it. SlideIT supports voice-to-text (!!!), graffiti in landscape mode (can’t find it, yet, in portrait mode), there are dedicated “copy”,”cut”,”paste” buttons, and text shortcuts. Would add an @ character to the main-page and graffiti to portrait mode

My preference is strongly for SLIDEIT. I plan to purchase the full version shortly (I was hoping to compare with SWYPE, but SWYPE have been silent since closing their beta…too long ago).

Steve

And let’s not forget BlindType; this will, in my opinion, be the next generation keyboard – or not – (if you’ve seen it you will know what I mean), and will overtake Swype which, at the moment, is my favorite. Just wish there was Swype for Win7.

Jack

I tried all of this, the best one is: SlideIT keyboard! is so good that I can’t imagine my life without it! the mixing of sliding prediction and shortcut make it so strong… I just love it…. http://www.dasur.il

jiltedcitizen

I like shapewriter http://www.shapewriter.com/ unfortunately it is not available on the Market anymore. I loved touchpal for winmo, the early release of touchpal for Android was not near as great, hopefully this one is.

sijju

I have used Better Keyboard, Sype, SwiftKey (from the above mentioned) and SmartKeyboard (not mentioned above). And decided to stay with SmartKeyboard. It’s the best amongst the ones I have used so far.

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