The keyboard on your device is probably one of the most used apps on your phone whether or not you realize it. Unless you’re the kind of person to use a ton of voice dictation, you probably tap out tons and tons of words each day through messaging, web browsing, looking up YouTube videos, and anything and everything in between. Having a good keyboard can make your smartphone experience significantly better, but using a bad keyboard can ruin the whole thing.
From minor glitches to lack of features to bad autocorrection and word prediction, we’ve all seen some poor keyboards that take the fun out of using your device. Now we’ll go over the best keyboard replacement apps that you can find in the Play Store.
SwiftKey made our list early on last time because of how terrific of a keyboard it is, and that still holds up today. Although, to be completely honest, it’s fair to say that SwiftKey has actually gotten quite a bit better than the last time we’ve talked about it thanks to some major updates and new features.
On a very basic level, SwiftKey is just a fantastic keyboard. It’s easy to type on, and the autocorrect and prediction functionality is probably the best you’ll see in a mobile keyboard thanks to how deep SwiftKey integrates with your other accounts. The keyboard actually learns from your messages, emails, and social media accounts to figure out how you type, so if there are any certain phrases or things you typically say, the keyboard’s prediction engine will pick up on that. If you give it enough information, sometimes the keyboard can even accurately predict sentences you’re trying to type from just a word or two. It’s impressive and insanely accurate.
Like most other keyboards, SwiftKey has also integrated a flow style of typing, too. Instead of actually tapping out letters and words, you can simply drag your finger across letters to type things out. Swype has been doing this for a very long time, and most other keyboards have picked up on the feature, but SwiftKey constantly improves the functionality and includes small little tweaks like being able to swipe to the spacebar in the middle of your sentences to type out words without ever having to lift your finger from the screen.
As far as bells and whistles go, SwiftKey offers a top notch experience, too. You have plenty of options to customize and tweak your keyboard to your liking, including changing the keyboard layout from traditional to split to floating layouts, adjusting how long you’ll have to long press a key to get its alternate character, and tons of other small options to change to cater to how you like to type. There’s also a theme store full of themes to use, ranging from basic colors to Material Design to designs based on popular movies.
Probably the best new recent feature that SwiftKey offers is that it’s become a free app. It cost around $4 before, but the developer has decided to try and make its money on paid themes in its, so if you aren’t picky about how your keyboard looks (and honestly, the default theme looks just fine) you should definitely give SwiftKey a try.
Fleksy is another fantastic keyboard that’s been around for awhile and it was recently been made free for everyone to download. It offers an excellent autocorrect engine, tons of themes and tweaks, and a unique feature that allows you to install extensions for extra functionality.
If you’re just looking for a no-frills keyboard replacement, Fleksy can handle that extremely well. Fleksy is accurate and fast to type on, and actually helped set the world record for fastest typing on a mobile keyboard. That alone is a pretty solid seal of approval, especially if you run into issues with other keyboards just not being responsive enough to keep up with how fast you type.
Where Fleksy really shines, though, is in its extensions. There are many extensions that do several different things, some of which of are a little more silly than others. One of the more popular extensions allows you to quickly find and send GIFs to your contacts, which is really something only Fleksy offers. Some of the other extensions are a little more focused on productivity, allowing you to do things like jump right into apps directly from your keyboard or add keyboard shortcuts and number rows. There’s an extension for a copy/paste shortcut, and even one that makes your keyboard invisible so you can maximize screen space while still typing. That completely customizable experience is a big plus for Fleksy.
As far as aesthetics go, Fleksy has also introduced their own theme store with over 40 different themes and 3 different size options for your keyboard. That’s pretty competitive with what other keyboards offer, so between the massive amount of available themes and extensions, it’s pretty tough to get a keyboard that can be completely fine-tuned to your liking as well as Fleksy can. Plus, now that’s it free, you don’t have anything to lose by trying it out.
A few years ago, Google moved Android’s default keyboard to the Play Store. They’ve since done that with other apps, too, like the camera app and a few others. The point was to give users an easy way to get an often-updated, stock Android experience that they normally wouldn’t get with their device produced by another hardware manufacturer, and that’s exactly where Google Keyboard shines.
If you’ve ever used a Nexus device, you probably know what to expect from Google Keyboard. It’s a very basic keyboard without many extra bells and whistles that offers a surprisingly great typing experience. The stock keyboards on some older Android devices were honestly pretty bad, but Google’s latest iterations have been excellent. Autocorrect works well, you’ll still have access to Android’s emoji system, and there are even a few things you can tweak like the volume and strength of every keypress. Also, it has a long-press delay to get to alternate characters.
Another excellent selling point of Google’s own keyboard is that it actually scales perfectly with tablets. There’s never a guarantee that your new favorite app will work well on a bigger screen, but Google has done a fantastic job of making sure that everything works smoothly on both small and large tablets, in addition to the normal phone keyboard. Plus, it’s a Google app, so you’ll get a full, no compromise Material Design interface.
If you need something with tons of customization options and extra features, Google Keyboard probably won’t work for you. Being that it is a solid keyboard that gets the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible, it’s hard to recommend anything other than Google Keyboard.
CM Keyboard is made by Cheetah Mobile, the developer responsible for a handful of other popular apps including Clean Master and CM Flashlight. The keyboard offers a pretty solid typing experience, but really excels when it comes to emojis. That’s probably not a very big selling point for everyone, but if you’re the kind of person that loads up their text messages with emojis instead of actual words, CM Keyboard can make that so much easier for you.
The actual keyboard itself isn’t bad, even if it won’t stand up next to some of the other options. There is a very useful number row at the top of the keyboard, which is something some other keyboards lack, and there are quick access buttons to change languages and other inputs. The autocorrect engine works fairly well, and it’s quick and easy to type on.
One of the fun parts of using CM Keyboard is how it seamlessly integrates emojis into your typing. If you type certain words or phrases, the keyboard will suggest an emoji based on what it thinks will fit what you’re trying to say in the suggestion bar. So if you’d rather autocorrect a spelling mistake into an emoji, you can, but it also gives you the option to type what you want instead of searching through pages and pages of emojis.
The keyboard also supports emoticons, which are kind of like vintage emojis. If you frequently visit sites like Reddit or other message boards, you’ve probably seen some emoticons that replicate faces or phrases with different keyboard characters, similar to Android’s original implementation. They were obviously a bit more popular before emojis came about, but they’re still around on certain sites and boards. Unfortunately, they can be tough to type, especially on a mobile keyboard, which is where CM Keyboard steps in. There’s an entire gallery of emoticons in the keyboard that’s a single click away, which makes it incredibly easy to insert those into your Reddit posts or text messages.
If emojis and emoticons aren’t really a selling point to you, CM Keyboard probably won’t be worth trying out. But if it is something that sounds fun to you, the keyboard is definitely worth checking out, and if nothing else, it’s useful to keep as a backup keyboard for when you do need to impress your internet friends with an emoticon flipping a table. (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻)
These keyboards offer some of the best typing experiences available on the Play Store, covering perfect touch accuracy to complete customization options to little gimmicks like GIFs and emojis. They’re all (probably) better than what shipped on your phone and likely offer some extra features and options that your OEM keyboard doesn’t have. So, if nothing else, they’ll make excellent backup keyboards for different situations.
Are there any keyboards we missed that you regularly use? Sound off in the comments and let us know.