Best Android keyboard replacements for phones and tablets [January 2013]

Keyboards are important. They’re easily the most used application on your Android phone, so having one you actually like can go a long way towards enjoying your phone. Sometimes, you’ll get stuck with an OEM keyboard that you don’t really care for; that’s where this guide comes in. We’ll go over all the best keyboard replacements for your device to help you pick one the right one for you.

Swype

Swype came along and really turned text input on its head. Instead of tapping out letters, you simply trace those letters along the keyboard and Swype fills in the words for you. It’s a weird concept, and it takes some practice to get used to it, but it can be a much faster input method than traditional typing, especially with one hand. At first, you might be a little skeptical about how well it works, but the prediction and recognition is excellent and is usually better than most stock keyboards. Swype is also constantly adding new features to keep that prediction and recognition up to par with the competition, too.

Is this the keyboard for you? If you type one handed often and don’t mind trying out new things, Swype is one of the best keyboards available. It’s unfortunately not available on the Play Store, so if you’re weird about installing third party applications, you may want to pass on this one. (Although as long as you’re only installing trusted applications, this should never be an issue.) If you’re trying to use Swype on a tablet, it does offer a moveable keyboard and split keyboard layout for tablets larger than 7 inches, but unfortunately for tablets like the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire, the keyboard mirrors the phone layout, which can be uncomfortable depending on how your hold your device. The same application works on both phones and tablets, and it’s free, so it’s worth at least testing the water to see how you like it.

Swype Beta Website

Swiftkey

Another extremely popular keyboard that’s constantly on top of Google Play’s best selling charts, SwiftKey boasts insanely accurate text prediction and correction. It learns from your text messages and emails and adapts to how you type to help correct your mistakes and even predict the rest of your sentences for you. And, believe it or not, it’s extremely accurate with its predictions, almost to the point of being creepy. If you type certain phrases often, after typing the first word or two, SwiftKey will automatically suggest the next few words to fill in the rest of the phrase. SwiftKey has also encroached on Swype’s territory a bit by introducing some text-swiping features called SwiftKey Flow.

Is this the keyboard for you? If you’re a fast typer who relies on autocorrect and word prediction, SwiftKey is going to become your new favorite app. After a week or so of using it, it almost starts to read your mind and speeds your texting and tweeting way up. Again, though, if privacy is a big concern to you,  you  may want to pass on SwiftKey. It does collect quite a bit of information to learn about your typing style to better tailor predictions and corrections, and some people may not want a company to have that much information. There are also two separate applications Swiftkey offers; one is for phones, one is for tablets. If you’re looking for a single keyboard with one install to use across devices, you may want to look at other keyboards on this list.

QR Code generator

Play Store Download Link

QR Code generator

Play Store Download Link (Tablet Version)

Go Keyboard

The Go Dev Team makes arguably the best replacement applications and widgets for Android phones, and their popular Go Keyboard is no exception. It doesn’t do the swype input quite as well as Swype, and it doesn’t do predictions quite like Swiftkey, but it beats them both by a mile in another category: customization. The Go Team brags that there are over 60 themes for their keyboard, and it supports several different languages and keyboard sizes. There’s even dedicated Emoji support baked in to the keyboard, if that’s your thing. It’s absolutely full of features that you won’t find in another keyboard.

Is this the keyboard for you? If you’re a constant ROM-flasher who wants everything customized a specific way, or if you’re just tired of the aesthetics of traditional keyboards, the Go Team has you covered. No other keyboard gives you the kind of options that Go Keyboard does, from the colors to picking between QWERTY keyboards of T9 keyboards. It also supports several different tablet sizes, designed specifically for 5″, 7″, and 9/10″ tablets.

QR Code generator

Play Store Download Link

Ice Cream Sandwich Keyboard

Maybe you don’t like fancy keyboards. Maybe you’re the kind of person that wants what Google intended, plain and simple, with nothing else complicated on top of it. The freely available Ice Cream Sandwich Keyboard on the Play Store is exactly what you’re looking for; no unnecessary bells and whistles, just the plain keyboard with Google’s standard predictions, options, and attractive holo theme.

Is this the keyboard for you? If you want a keyboard that just works, that’s easy to figure out, and doesn’t require twenty minutes to set up, then yes. There’s a few tweaks for autocorrections and punctuation and things like that, so technically it’s a little more featured than Google’s AOSP keyboard, but it stays true to what Google intended. There’s no gimmicks here, and no privacy issues. Type away.

QR Code generator

Play Store Download Link

Perfect Keyboard

Perfect Keyboard takes a different approach to typing. Instead of the traditional landscape keyboard layout, it splits itself into three separate pieces with half the keyboard on one side, half on the other, and a numpad in the middle. The thought behind it is that it reduces the strain on your thumbs to stretch to some of those hard-to-reach keys in the middle of the keyboard, which is especially useful on some of the larger phones we’re beginning to see. It does also offer quite a bit of customization, including setting different keyboards for both landscape and portrait, different themes, and being able to set a picture as a custom background.

Is this the keyboard for you? If you have a hard time reaching some of the keys on your keyboard, definitely give Perfect Keyboard a try. There’s a learning curve at first, but after playing with it for a few days, it’s will easily speed up your typing. It’s also pretty handy for typing on a tablet, since it lets you type just like you would on a phone without having to reach your hand halfway across the screen. That customization across devices is where Perfect Keyboard really shines over the rest of the keyboards on this list.

QR Code generator

Play Store Download Link

There are enough keyboards to try out in the Play Store to keep you busy for months. Some of them offer a few niche features that may appeal to you, but these four offer the biggest features better than most other keyboards available. Did we miss one of your favorite keyboards? Hit us up in the comments section and let us know what you’re using.

» See more articles by Jared Peters


Google+6Facebook27Twitter104
  • Kenjuta

    Should consider the kii keyboard as well

  • Mihail Dadun

    TouchPal is pretty great

  • Jack

    Kii keyboard is the best android 4.2 keyboard with customization that I’ve seen.

    • tcat

      By far the best!

    • http://twitter.com/ActuallyIsJerry Jared Peters

      I tried Kii Keyboard after just about everyone told me I should have put it in this list. And I agree, whenever we make a new list for best keyboards, Kii definitely deserves a spot.

      • ST7

        What do you think about touch pal? What wood y

        What have you heard about touch pal? What’s best to try for someone who wants a SwiftKey predictive function with the gesture typing on Android 4.2?

  • Bennett Todd

    I only use it with terminal, connectbot, and emacs, but I wouldn’t want to be without Hacker’s Keyboard.

  • DonSerrot

    I like the stock JB keyboard on my GNex/Nexus 7. Works perfectly for me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doina-Stoica/100003316155363 Doina Stoica

    How can you not include Thumbs keyboard?
    It’s very good, with a lot of customization witch allow everyone to adapt it to he’s needs and make it perfect!

  • TheHater

    Touchpal is by far the best keyboard I have used so far. It has the great prediction of SwiftKey and the great trace kb of swype, and it does them well. It also has great customization, and the best part is that it’s free.

  • Bram

    definitely Kii keyboard

  • PuzzledObserver

    Thank you gentlemen the commenters. Thanks to you I discover Touchpal and Kii. I am going to try these out to see if Swiftkey3 is worth its $4.

  • ST7

    I read @something called touch palm, which sounded like a free version of SwiftKey and had good reviews on Google Play so was curious before I put down $ since I’ve never paid for an app in my life

  • http://twitter.com/JazzieJay23 Mkaela’s mommy :o)

    I was a big swift key supporter until I stumbled upon Kii keyboard. This keyboard has accurate spell check tons of customization. By far its the best keyboard dive used thus far and I’ve tried them all. I ♥ Kii keyboard. Also it has cool symbols and its emojii compatible.

  • http://twitter.com/iixxxxxii jewish worldwide

    Kii keyboard is the most accurate and fastest keyboard

  • http://www.facebook.com/rodgerq Rodger Quinn

    what about thumb keyboard 4? heard good things about that

  • NH
  • caro678

    Does it have a tab key function? I’m going crazy trying to find a keyboard that has one !

    • kzshantonu

      Hacker’s Keyboard. You’re welcome :)

  • Steve

    I use smart keyboard pro in T9 format with predictive text, its good for fast thumb typing on big smart phones such as the galaxy

  • Geras

    I use the messagEase keyboard and is been great very different than others out there but very easy to learn and with so many ways to customize is a great keyboard specially if you are a one finger typist