Fast: When was the final time you considered the keyboard app in your telephone?
Should you’re something like most individuals, the reply might be someplace between “a ridiculously very long time in the past” and “by no means.” And it is no marvel: Keyboard apps are simple to neglect! You put in one — or keep on with no matter got here loaded in your telephone by default — after which use it to enter textual content when you must. It is simply there, and except you are a weirdo who spends hours attempting out completely different keyboards to see how they evaluate (after which attempting ’em all out once more months later to see how they’ve developed and what different choices have come alongside), you are by no means gonna know what you are lacking.
Effectively, excellent news, my good friend: I am that weirdo. Someway, it is my job. (Loopy, proper?) And I’ve simply completed assessing the entire vital Android keyboard apps of their present incarnations to see what they’ve to supply in 2021 and the way they stack up.
Lemme inform ya: These once-unassuming typing instruments have come a good distance. The prime Android keyboard apps now provide nearly absurdly polished and refined textual content enter experiences — and that is simply the tip of the iceberg. Android keyboards at the moment are overflowing with all types of superior features that go approach past their unique functions. And meaning it is extra essential than ever to seek out the best setup for your private productivity wants.
So let’s get into it, lets? These are the best Android keyboard apps round, damaged down by the place they excel and for whom they take advantage of sense.
The best all-around Android keyboard app for most individuals
Gboard – the Google Keyboard (free)
Should you simply desire a strong, thoughtfully designed keyboard that works properly and is nice to make use of, Google’s personal Gboard is hard to beat. Gboard is nice for correct swipe-based typing — the place you slide your finger from one letter to the subsequent with out lifting it — and it does an honest job at tap-oriented typing, too, with its built-in typo correction and next-word prediction capabilities.
Past the fundamentals, Gboard helps a wide range of doubtlessly helpful superior productivity options. For example, you’ll be able to search Google proper from the keyboard after which paste in outcomes — issues like instructions to a enterprise or a hyperlink to an online web page — instantly into the textual content area, wherever you might be. You can too activate an built-in Google Translate mode that’ll translate something you sort from one language to a different on the fly.
Different noteworthy parts embrace a handwriting mode, which transforms your on-screen scribbles into common textual content as you write; a floating keyboard choice, which makes it simpler to entry the keyboard on a large-screened system; a built-in clipboard, which makes it fast ‘n’ easy to seek out and paste any lately copied content material or completely pinned gadgets; a wide range of themes to make the keyboard look any approach you want; and a collection of hidden shortcuts for extra-speedy textual content enter.
Whether or not you make the most of all these prospects or not, although, Gboard is a well-rounded keyboard that allows you to sort rapidly, precisely, and with minimal problem in your Android telephone. If you have no particular necessities and simply desire a commendable all-around keyboard that will get the job accomplished, Gboard is the app for you.
The best Android keyboard app for tap-based typing and predictive textual content
Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard (free)
End up typing largely by tapping out phrases? The now-Microsoft-owned SwiftKey is the Android keyboard app you need. SwiftKey is in a league of its personal in the case of ease and accuracy of tap-based typing, and its next-word prediction is second to none. (The app can deal with swipe-based typing as properly however is much less distinctive in that area.)
SwiftKey has loads of bells and whistles, too, together with a characteristic that allows you to share your actual location (or any location round you) with a pair fast faucets; an choice to attach the keyboard to your calendar after which flick through your agenda and share particulars about an occasion or time slot into any textual content area; and an built-in internet search system that makes it doable to view whole internet pages in an overlay window and even seize and share screenshots with out ever switching away out of your present app.
All in all, SwiftKey is a refined and viable different to Gboard. It additionally, not surprisingly, depends totally on Microsoft providers over Google providers, by default, for issues like search and translation. Should you are likely to sort largely by tapping — or for those who’re closely invested within the Microsoft ecosystem and need your Android expertise to revolve round that world — it is properly price giving a whirl.
The best Android keyboard app for writing perfection
If you’re less concerned about how you’re typing and more worried about what you’re typing, the appropriately named Grammarly Keyboard might be just the answer for you. Grammarly, as its name suggests, is focused on watching your words and making intelligent suggestions about your grammar, spelling, and other potential issues as you enter text on your phone.
To that end, the keyboard pops up corrections about your writing within its upper bar in real time and as part of an ongoing list of suggestions. Even when it comes to something as simple as a misspelled word, it outshines other keyboards by making sure an error catches your attention both while you’re actively typing it and after you’ve moved past the problematic text, thanks to a lingering alert in the keyboard’s upper-left corner. And it does the same with grammatical issues, too — something most other keyboards don’t attempt at all.
Grammarly also offers up synonyms for your most recent word whenever you stop typing, which can be both handy and beneficial. Or, shall I say, efficacious. (Thank you, thesaurus!)
If you really want to go all out, Grammarly can give you detailed suggestions about improving your writing — tips for everything from clarifying sentences to fixing wordiness and even making you sound more confident (a service I sure could’ve used in high school) — as part of a $140-a-year premium subscription. The price is a bit steep, but it does include a similar set of benefits across Grammarly’s browser extensions, native Windows and Mac utilities, and Word-, Outlook-, and Docs-specific functions. (Team-based business plans are also available starting at $12.50 per user per month.)
Writing improvement aside, Grammarly’s Android keyboard is perfectly fine. It supports both tap- and swipe-based input and works well on both fronts. It lacks most of the more advanced elements and options Gboard and SwiftKey provide, but it gives you an awful lot of alternative value in return.
The best Android keyboard app for privacy and simplicity
Simple Keyboard (free)
On the flip side to the more elaborate Android keyboard options is the bare-bones, basic-as-can-be Simple Keyboard — an app whose name tells you much of what you need to know about the experience it provides.
Simple Keyboard gives you, yes, a simple keyboard, with support for tap-based typing — and that’s pretty much it. There’s no text correction system, no next-word prediction, and no support for swipe-oriented input. There’s not even access to Google’s system-level voice-to-text system, which every other app in this list provides. Heck, aside from a humble set of simple options, Simple Keyboard has no bells and whistles whatsoever. It is, quite simply, a keyboard. And that’s all it aspires to be.
So why would you want such a frills-free typing experience when so many rich, feature-laden alternatives exist? Well, you might not want any of those added elements, for one, and might be content to have something that just lets you tap in words as needed. But perhaps more prominently, Simple Keyboard’s lack of lofty ambitions gives it one powerful feature no other keyboard can match: privacy — built in at its core, with a ground-level assurance that nothing you type could ever be transmitted off your device by the keyboard itself.
Pretty much every other Android keyboard app, y’see, requires perpetual network access in order to operate. And while most of the major players say they’ll never do anything nefarious with your data, there’s no denying that they do at the very least have the ability to observe and transmit it. (The need for internet access can be explained in a variety of perfectly legitimate ways, including the ambitious options those apps have for performing internet searches and even just learning your typing habits over time in order to provide better predictions — but still, if maximum privacy is a top concern of yours, that may not be enough to make it acceptable.)
Simple Keyboard, in contrast, requests no level of network access. In fact, the only permission it requires is the ability to control your device’s vibration motor. (You can see this for yourself by opening the “View details” link under the “Permissions” header on the app’s Play Store page. On Android, an app is only allowed to access system functions and types of data that it explicitly requests and that you explicitly authorize at some point along the way.) That means there’s no realistic way the app can log what you’re typing and then transfer that data off of your device — for any reason. The program’s code is even completely open source, if you’re tech-savvy and want to confirm exactly what it’s doing.
Most people will prefer the added creature comforts offered by the other apps in this list, but for the privacy-conscious and simplicity-seeking among us, Simple Keyboard is a valuable and unusual contender that plays an important role in this keyboard collection.
This article was originally published in March 2019 and updated in February 2021.
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.