One of the best features on Android phones is the ability to choose the right keyboard for you from a large variety of keyboards available in the market. I will try to explain how to change keyboards and test them, than I’ll add a list of available keyboards with explanations for each one of them so you can easily find the best keyboard for you.
Android Newbies guide for changing keyboards on Android phone
1. Install any keyboard you like from the Android market. Read my reviews of the different keyboards below, it will help you to choose one.
2. Activating the keyboard you installed: Press ‘menu’ and choose ‘settings’, than ‘language & keyboard’, now you will see all the keyboards already installed on your phone under ‘keyboard settings’. mark the check keyboard you want to activate. you can go to the settings of each keyboard from there too. note that the keyboards that came pre-installed on you phone will not have the option to activate them, they will always stay activated.
3. Choosing the keyboard you want to use from all the activated keyboards: Navigate to any area on your phone where you can enter text, examples: SMS, mail, or simply press the menu button on the home screen and choose ‘search’, now long press on the area in which you need to enter text, you’ll see a pop-up with ‘input method’ option, choose it and you’ll see all the activated keyboards, choose the one you want to use.
Here is a nice video showing what I just wrote.
Now that you know how to install a new keyboard lets take a look at the differences between the keyboards on the market.
Android Newbies Reviews of keyboards for Android
There are 3 main styles of typing on Android: swiping over the keys, using text predictions, and the traditional point-and-tap keyboard. Below, I’ll discuss the 3 styles of typing and recommend my favorite keyboards for each method.
Point-and-tap keyboards: This method doesn’t necessarily have the potential to be as fast as some of the other methods, but it’s also very similar to typing on a desktop keyboard so no need to learn a new way of typing. Most of you are probably know this, since it’s the “default” type of keyboard on most phones. On these keyboards you need to tap each letter separately, typing out the entire word.
My favorite: Smart Keyboard Pro: If you’re willing to spend a few bucks in the Market, go pick up Smart Keyboard Pro. It’s a great multitouch keyboard, that adds a ton of different settings that let you customize how big the keys are, how far apart they are, add different shortcuts, and even the look of the keyboard. It also adds the ability to press and hold almost any key on the keyboard to type a symbol, which is nice, and a little bit easier to use than the Gingerbread keyboard’s method of putting them in the text prediction box.
Text prediction keyboards: These keyboards put a specific emphasis on text prediction, learning from you as you type and serving you the most likely words in any given situation. They’re especially useful for people that type the same sentences over and over again. While the majority of Android keyboards feature text prediction, only a few focus on it so much that it becomes a defining characteristic.
My favorite: SwiftKey: SwiftKey learns as you type and puts more emphasis on text prediction than actual typing. Once you’ve used it for a little while, it’ll know you so well that you can form entire sentences just by tapping the word predictions at the top. It can even scan your Facebook posts, tweets, and emails to better learn your style of typing and sentence formation.
Slide keyboards (my favorite): This style will let you type by swiping between the keys rather than tapping them. There’s a good reason for it, too: They’re fast. Really fast. Once you learn this method and how to use all the little tricks, you can blaze through texts at blinding speeds.
My favorite: SlideIT: SlideIT works in a very simple way: you drag your finger across the keys to type. It has a short learning curve but once you get use to it, you will never go back to the regular method. It has regular text prediction along the top, which is useful when SlideIT guesses a word wrong—all you need to do is tap on the word and then tap on the prediction you want to replace it with. In addition, It has a Palm-like “graffiti” pad that allows you to type numbers and symbols by drawing them on the screen rather than tapping a bunch of menu buttons. It also has support for a ton of different languages and themes and you can even re-size it to fit your needs.
2 other great keyboards you need to know about:
Swype: Very much like SlideIT, Swype is a fantastic keyboard, with very smooth swiping, a ton of hidden little shortcuts, and a huge dictionary that can read from your contacts and Facebook. Unfortunately, it’s mainly distributed pre-installed on certain devices and it’s not available in the market, so if you have it pre-installed, I suggest you stay with it. If you don’t have it, try SlideIT instead.
Go Keyboard: A new keyboard with a lot of potential to be the best Android keyboard in my opinion. I didn’t mention it under the 3 styles above because it has the 3 of them inside for you to choose! It has almost all the feature the other keyboards have plus some more. Comes with the text prediction method by default but you can turn on the slide method in the settings and it’s simply great. This keyboard support a lot of different languages and themes, and the best thing is its free. The developers promise a new update every week so I guess it will be even better soon.
I am sure there are many more good keyboards for android, and there new ones coming out all the time, so if you find one that worth a mention, please add a comment and share.