Android lets you customize just about anything, and keyboards are no exception. If you’re frustrated by the default keyboard, especially if you’re using an older version of Android, try one of these alternatives. You can thank us later.
Swype is the infamous keyboard that changed everything. Rather than typing one letter after another, Swype allows you to move your finger on screen, literally swiping between letters. The keyboard determines possible words from the keys you’ve touched, and picks the most likely. If it’s wrong, you can simply press the Swype button to bring up other options. Once you master the keyboard, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you type. You’ll never double-thumb it again.
Previously, you might have had trouble using Swype. Luckily, more manufacturers now include it by default. Your phone might already have it. Long-press on any text area and choose “Input Method.” If Swype’s there, you don’t have to download a thing. If not, download Swype beta from the official website.
SwiftKey is also pretty revolutionary but in a complete different way. When you first install it, you enter your social networking information, allowing the keyboard app to actually learn how you speak. It uses traditional key pressing; however, the predictions it gives are based on things that you would say, so they’re more relevant than your stock keyboard.
SwiftKey isn’t free, but it’s probably the one app you won’t mind purchasing. Tablet owners can also rejoice, because SwiftKey X is available in both a phone and tablet version. The tab app recognizes the spacial difference when it comes to your tablet. SwiftKey Tablet X breaks the keys up into three smaller blocks for thumb typing.
FlexT9 does everything that Swype does but, perhaps, better. Start swiping away, if you’re already familiar. If the keyboard doesn’t recognize a word that you type, which will sometimes happen, you can still type with T9. Plus, you can draw words or speak your message into the microphone. Swype lets you do all that, but the word menu hides the keyboard. FlexT9’s menu appears above the keyboard, like default Android keyboards, so it doesn’t entirely obscure the keys. You only have to select the word to bring up options, saving you time in the long run.
FlexT9 is available for $4.99 from Google Play and Amazon’s App Store.
The last keyboard on this list is also premium, but you’ll understand why once you start using it. One of the major problems of touch-screen keyboards is how frustratingly small they are. This isn’t something you could change—until Smart Keyboard entered the scene. You can now customize the size and spacing between the keys. It supports T9 and Qwerty, but you can actually change how letters fit onto the keyboard, making yours truly unique. This app costs an awkward $2.65, but it’s worth it!
You may not find switching keyboards as fun as adding a new theme, but you’ll be glad that you did in the end.