Let your fingers do the talking.
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Typing on phones is no fun. Screens are small, thumbs are imprecise, and typos abound. Thankfully, Android allows you to download alternate keyboards so you can find one that fits your typing style. Here are the best Android keyboards for your to try.
The Best Basic Keyboard – Gboard
Let’s start with the obvious: If your phone didn’t come with Google’s Gboard keyboard (like Pixel phones do), you should try it. It offers glide-based typing, so you can swipe your finger between letters, and uses Google’s impressive AI for text predictions, voice recognition, and GIF suggestions. It’s decently customizable and very easy to use, and in my experience, rarely lags (like some other third-party keyboards can, especially on lower-end devices). While it doesn’t stand out in any unique way, Gboard is the standard by which I judge other Android keyboards. Even with the advanced keyboards other features offer, I always find myself coming back to old faithful.
The Best Keyboard for Text Prediction – SwiftKey
The Microsoft-owned SwiftKey aims to predict your next word better than any other keyboard, and it does a pretty good job. Like most keyboards, it learns as you type and uses that to suggest words along the top, but unlike most keyboards, you can give it lots more info to work with. By logging into your Google and Microsoft account, you can give SwiftKey permission to scan your emails, text messages, and other communications to really learn your typing style. Of course, that requires you giving it access to a lot of data, which many people aren’t comfortable with…in which case, SwiftKey may not be for you.
On top of its prediction engine, SwiftKey offers glide typing and a few layout customizations, though I’ve felt it lag on certain lower-end phones at times. There’s also a beta version if you like to be on the bleeding edge of new features.
The Best Keyboard for Gestures and Privacy – Fleksy
Fleksy is a free, stylish keyboard built around gestures—instead of tapping a button to delete a word or bring up emoji, you can use different swipes to perform certain actions. It also allows for a number of stylish themes and can plug in to other apps (like YouTube, Spotify, or Yelp) so you can share stuff with your friends.
On top of all that, Fleksy aims to be private: instead of doing language processing on its servers, Fleksy does everything on your phone so what you type doesn’t get sent anywhere but your intended recipient. That means its prediction features may not be as smart as something like Gboard or SwiftKey, but if you’re concerned about privacy, Fleksy is a good option.
The Most Customizable Keyboard – Ai.type
All these keyboards have some level of customization, but ai.type takes it to the next level. Not only can you create your own visual themes, but you can resize the keyboard more precisely, customize the bottom row of keys, and even add your own custom keys to type oft-used symbols. You’ll also find a few unique features in ai.type, including a cursor tracker to more easily manipulate text, a built-in calculator, and “saved messages” so you can send your most commonly-used phrases with a few simple taps. If you type a lot on your phone and need more than a basic keyboard can provide, ai.type has a lot to like. There’s also a free version with ads and fewer themes, if you want to try before you buy.
The Most Feature-Filled Keyboard – Touchpal
If you prefer more of an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to your apps, Touchpal loads up their keyboard with tons of features. Not only does it have the typical text prediction, glide typing, themes, and keyboard customization, but it adds AR Emoji (no matter what phone you have), GIF creation and recommendations, and a cool “Wave” typing feature that suggests words next to the letters as you type. It also has news, games, and…frankly, more extra “stuff” than a keyboard probably needs, so it can feel a little cluttered at times. Still, there are some clever features here, so if you find a feature you like, Touchpad may be the keyboard for you.
The Best Keyboard for Saving Screen Space – Minuum
If you’re annoyed by how much space typical keyboards take up, try Minuum. This keyboard is more compact than most, relying on its text prediction and gestures instead of a bunch of extra keys. It still includes advanced features like cursor control, emoji suggestions, and clipboard shortcuts, but its banner feature is its size—particularly the super-small “mini mode,” which puts all the keyboard’s letters on a single line so you can see more of your screen. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but if you need more of your screen’s real estate while you type—like if you’re using a split-screen view of two apps-—Minuum can be a life saver.
Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for 10 years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his mechanical keyboard.