One of the joys of having an Android device is the ability to customize it through and through.
You can change the launcher, switch wallpapers and do just about anything you want. Don’t get me started on what you can do when you go a step further and get root access.
It is only recently (over 2 years) that iOS got the ability to interchange keyboards. On Android, that capability has been there from the onset and it’s one most of us have grown to take full advantage of.
If you happen to be stuck on what choice of keyboard you should go with, you can’t go wrong with any of these 5 choices. Yes, they have their downsides, like any other piece of software out there, but for the most part, they are excellent. Due to their unique use cases, you might find yourself using them interchangeably. Switching to one from the other when it’s most convenient. That’s what I do anyway.
At times Google does some rather annoying things. Like sidestepping us for iOS users. That is what happened when Gboard was launched. It was made available for iPhone users first a year ago. It wasn’t until 6 months later that it finally landed on the Play Store.
When it did come, though, it was love at first sight.
Its predictions are on point. As if we would expect anything less from Google in this regard.
Google’s primary business is search and Gboard was built with this in mind. The Google button that you can’t miss pops open a search bar from where you can query the scores of your favourite football team, the current weather conditions etc.
That it lets me search for emojis using terms instead of scrolling through emojis looking for the right one is a big plus. GIFs can be searched, too.
That it makes sure basics like a number row are not left behind makes it hard to find an excuse for not liking it or not using it. Throw in other features like the copy and paste function and the built-in translator and you have what is, in my opinion, the best keyboard application on the Play Store. All that without the bloat of legendary keyboard apps like GO Keyboard and TouchPal.
When it comes to prediction algorithms, no one gets them as right as SwiftKey keyboard does. Google is to search as SwiftKey is to predictions on a mobile keyboard.
It taps the power of Artificial Intelligence to stay ahead of the prediction game. The end result is improved typing speeds.
For a long time, I stuck to SwiftKey because it backed up my predictions to its cloud (SwiftKey Cloud) and synced them across my devices.
I am a sucker for the various themes available to SwiftKey users and have spent a couple of $ on them. Of course including the free pack that SwiftKey gave those of us who had spent over Kshs 500 buying the app back in the day when it was a paid app.
Now owned by Microsoft, SwiftKey continues to be one of the go-to apps for superior keyboard experiences. While at it, it is still adding new features. Keypress sound profiles, support for more languages, and so on and so on.
However, SwiftKey’s age starts showing when you use it for a while. It’s become big, bloated and resource-intensive. I learned to live without it last year when the Mate 8 I was using started hanging and throwing tantrums. The same was the case on my aging Galaxy Note 3. I uninstalled SwiftKey and BAM! Problem solved.
The developer of Chrooma keyboard, GameLounge, has quite a reputation of bringing to the market some very good apps. I bumped on Chrooma keyboard when I bought their other application, Chrooma Live Wallpaper.
Chrooma keyboard is a keyboard app like any other. What sets it apart is its unique approach to the colourfulness of Android thanks to Material Design, the design guidelines followed when developing for Android.
When using Chrooma keyboard, the keyboard changes colour depending on the application you’re using at that particular time. Checking off items on your to-do list on Google Keep? The keyboard’s colour turns to yellow. Taking down some notes on Evernote? The keyboard’s colour changes to green. And so on and so on. The navigation bar, too, changes colour when the keyboard does. If that is still not satisfactory, one can download a theme of their choice for further customization.
That is not all, the keyboard’s aesthetic appeal aside, it is good as a day-to-day keyboard, mimicking a lot of the functionality of the former Google keyboard. It is fast, it has some pretty good predictions and suggestions (which include GIFs).
Talking about GIFs, Chrooma keyboard is one of the few apps that lets users search for GIFs for use anywhere they are inputting text which is pretty good.
Slash keyboard’s social sharing features are life. Who wouldn’t want to be able to add YouTube links on the fly without having to go all the way back to the app drawer to look for either the browser or the YouTube app?
What’s more, I can link my LinkedIn, Spotify, Apple Music, Facebook and other accounts directly to it. As a New York Times subscriber, I find myself sharing with my social circles many of the articles I read on “The Gray Lady”. With Slash keyboard, I simply tap on the “slash” and I am halfway towards sharing Trump’s latest slip or an interesting Magazine read. It’s fantastic.
GIFs, too, can be added from the top bar.
For the less paranoid, you can drop a pin to your whereabouts without having to wander all the way to Google Maps to take advantage of its new location-sharing feature.
The only downside to Slash is that when you want to take advantage of all these features, it can let you down at times. It becomes slow and lags. That can be annoying.
At first glance, the “little keyboard for big fingers” looks like something that would be interesting only to people still clinging on to their Sony Xperia X10 mini but it is not. It is something I enjoy using on the 5.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S8 and the 5.9-inch Huawei Mate 9, big phones by all means. Even though it is not yet optimized for use in the former – the keyboard and the navigation buttons overlap.
Once you get the hang of it, Minuum can make your typing a breeze thanks to its on-the-spot predictions and suggestions (also include emojis).
Users can also cut and paste with relative ease.
The only problem? No matter how you get used to Minuum, you will never quite feel at home as you would when using a standard touch keyboard.
Which keyboard app are you using on your phone?