Software Keyboards for Android

by Suzanne Humphries

Google Pixel phone with Gboard keyboard app open
Justin Duino

While you probably don’t think about it much, your phone’s keyboard is one of the most heavily used things on your phone. So, if you don’t like yours, or if it keeps auto-correcting to a typo or doesn’t have the features you want, why not get a new one?

What to Look for in an Android Keyboard App

Keyboards are one of the many things you can customize on an Android, so don’t feel pressured to stick with the default keyboard if it’s just not your cup of tea. Most third-party keyboard apps offer plentiful customization options, access to emoji and GIFs, and are available in hundreds languages. However, each approaches things slightly differently, so here are the most important features to be aware of:

  • Layout Options: The fun thing about these keyboard apps is how much you can personalize them. You can adjust the size of the keyboard, or opt for a one-handed or floating keyboard layout. Some let you customize further by adding on a number row or toggling the haptic feedback and keyboard sounds. A few even have advanced settings you can tinker with, like how many milliseconds long the delay of a long-press should be.
  • Text Options: The best Android keyboard apps work in hundreds of languages, and let you easily add new words to your phone’s dictionary. Many of them offer predictive text suggestions, which is great to have if you’re not sure how to spell a difficult word and gives you control over text correction options. Plenty of keyboard apps support voice and gesture typing, so check for that as well if it’s something you’ll need. Overall, look for a keyboard with helpful features designed to help you type quickly and accurately, whether you’ll be typing emails, social media posts, or your next novel.
  • Privacy: Keyboards can read what you type (which can include usernames and passwords), and some use cloud storage to store things like your personal dictionary, which is technically vulnerable to hacks. Most keyboards offer an incognito mode feature that won’t track what you write, but only one app in our review, Fleksy, stated outright that it offers private locally stored typing. We recommend reading the privacy policy of the keyboard app you choose before you download it.
  • Emoji & GIF Access: A picture is worth a thousand words right? If words just won’t cut it, make sure you choose a keyboard app with built-in support for emoji and stickers, along with easy access to GIFs.
  • Themes: If you’re totally bored by the color of your phone’s default keyboard, choose an app that lets you customize that, too. Many apps offer a wide selection of keyboard colors and holiday-specific themes, or even let you upload one of your own photos as your keyboard’s background.
  • Cost: Most keyboard apps for Android are free, which is what you should expect them to be as well. Be wary of upgrades or subscription plans, as they just aren’t something you need to pay for. On the other hand, if they are offering a fun feature you’re interested in, go for it, just make sure you know how much you’ll be charged before signing up.

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