Sure, many of us couldn’t be happier with the keyboard that is stock standard with our Android. In fact it is really dependent on how seriously the manufacturer of the phone takes human-computer-interaction. What can’t be disputed however is how important our input method is in regards to using our phone. Some of us rarely make actual phone calls and rely on text messaging to communication with people and those of us who are guilty of doing this really want something that makes this task easier. The standard Android keyboard is great – don’t get me wrong; however, it is fun to play around with what is out there in order to form an educated opinion on what is good and what isn’t. I have collected a list of some of the more popular (and useful) third party keyboards out there. While the list itself is not exhaustive and may not even be a list of the best keyboards – the amount of downloads that each keyboard has is surely some sort of indicator in how good the keyboard is. I have even ignored some of the more popular keyboards in order to give my two cents about what I prefer.
Firstly – I will start with what is the most popular third party keyboard out there. Swype has been around for quite a while and has enjoyed a pretty healthy popularity. Swype offers a pretty comprehensive range of functions such as auto-complete and the ability to show potential words that can be made out of what you are typing in. Not a bad keyboard by any means, however I found the buttons a little small for my liking (I actually don’t like the standard Android keyboard because of this).
The next up is Swiftkey. As of writing this it is still in beta but is looking promising. I haven’t found much of a problem with this keyboard – however, it has the same size keys (pretty much) as Swype. Its auto-complete function is a little more in depth and it has been touted as being akin to “having an english professor living in your phone”. It is still relatively early days for this keyboard so time will tell if it surpasses Swype in terms of popularity. I actually preferred it over Swype so who knows. I am a relatively small sample group though.
Now we move into the realm of the big key keyboards. ThickButtons is not bad – I found it a little laggy though. It seemed to take a second for what I typed to appear on the screen. Didn’t seem like a bad keyboard but when are used to having what you type show up instantly, it wasn’t all that nice to use. The other bigger keyboard I tried (and still use) is Better Keyboard. This seemed very similar to ThickButtons but didn’t have the same interface lag as ThickButtons so this was the winner for me.
There are a lot more keyboards out there for the Android and changing the keyboard around is relatively easy. Just hunt around for the option in the general options in the phone. You might be happy with your current keyboard but that doesn’t mean you won’t find something better.