Virtual keyboards for Android

Sergei Terekhov

Written by Sergei Terekhov | Thursday, 13 March 2014

My dear readers, let’s continue our conversation about Android mobile applications. Development of modern technologies makes a lot of interesting features possible. Some of them are useful; and some are just entertaining. Today, let’s talk about virtual screen keyboards for Android smartphones. We’ll discuss the most popular applications allowing their users to type messages in different ways and consider, which way is the most convenient one.

For many smartphone users, the virtual screen keyboard is one of the most important system components defining usability of the device. First of all, I’d remark that the default Android keyboard is pretty convenient. Moreover, it is being constantly improved. For example, we see a gesture keyboard in Android 4.2 that understands movements of our fingers and guesses what we are typing.

But not everyone is satisfied with this default solution. For such people, mobile application developers created a lot of alternative keyboards. Let’s consider the most popular examples from Google Play. 

1. SwiftKey Keyboard. SwiftKey is one of the most popular virtual keyboards for Android devices. This mobile application was developed by British company “TouchType”. The keyboard understands how to correctly write and combine words. SwiftKey has a very precise auto-correction function and supports more than 60 languages. Moreover, the program is constantly learning by using your texts from Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and SMS. 

2. Swype. Swype provides the user with a comprehensive set of input modes and additional features like XT9, handwritten T9, and even voice recognition. You can also personalize the system by selecting one of the nine themes from the menu. 

3. A.I.type Keyboard. The keyboard suggests your next words, completes your current word and even corrects errors. This is possible due to analysis of the context and what you were writing previously. A.I.type Keyboard learns your favorite words and your usual style, and improves its text prediction accordingly. Customization is also available: users can change colors, and background images. 

4. Thumb Keyboard. According to the words of its mobile developers, this application claims to be the most customizable keyboard for Android devices. I think, its “split” layout is the most remarkable novelty making typing more comfortable. This layout looks like a usual, but split into two parts QWERTY-keyboard placed at both display sides. In the middle of the screen, you have numbers and special symbols. Thumb Keyboard looks impressive and might be very useful for improving your productivity. 

5. Keymonk. This keyboard gives you the possibility to type words by sliding with both fingers and supports multitouch. I found this idea so unusual and interesting that I downloaded this keyboard and tried to type with both fingers as fast and adroitly as the person in the promo video does. Unfortunately, I failed. I can’t figure out how this keyboard works at all. However, the standard sliding method with only one finger worked well – but it isn’t the point of Keymonk, isn’t it?

So, we see that Android mobile applications for virtual keyboards are constantly getting smarter and more unusual. What virtual keyboard for Android devices do you prefer? And what way is the most convenient for you – simple typing or sliding? Actually, I’ve recently seen the advertisement of new BlackBerry smartphones offering a new “effortless typing experience”. It looks like you just “throw” words from the keyboard at the text field. Have you got some experience with this new BlackBerry keyboard?

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