Best for maximizing screen space: Minuum
The Minuum keyboard isn’t your typical QWERTY keyboard. Although the positions of the letters are similar, the entire alphabet appears on the same line. This means that Minuum is one of the smallest Android keyboards, but it’s also deceptively simple to use.
While it may not be the fastest – and it’s quite easy to make mistakes – Minuum is a great keyboard for those who want to be able to see more messages from their conversation on the screen while they type a reply. Because the keyboard is so close to the bottom of the screen, you are able to see more above and can get more out of your conversation because you don’t have to scroll up as much to answer a question or address something.
The keyboard is in one line at the bottom of the screen and is staggered so there are less mistakes made. It comes in the familiar QWERTY style with all letters reading from left to right as they appear on a normal keyboard and not alphabetically.
Best for speed: Fleksy
Fleksy delivers a large keyboard and simple gestures to provide record-breaking typing speeds. With a swipe up or down you can correct words from a list of recommendations, while a back swipe will delete a word, and a swipe forward will add a period.
It’s an efficient system, which makes Fleksy our top recommendation for fans of standard typing rather than swiping. This flips the normal narrative about standard keyboards being replaced by the next generation of swipe keyboards. This one performs quite well even with words that are difficult to spell.
There’s also a surprisingly capable ‘invisible’ keyboard plugin, which is cool to show off to friends. You can also create a custom keyboard to be more elaborate in you messages by sending GIFs. You can customize your personal keyboard experience with over 40 themes.
Best for artificial intelligence: SwiftKey
Possibly the most well-known keyboard app on the Google Play Store, SwiftKey has one of the finest typing interfaces available on Android. Like Swype, you can type in the traditional manner or use swiping (which SwiftKey calls ‘flow’), and both methods function equally well.
SwiftKey didn’t become so popular for no good reason, it has many features that make it stand out from other apps. The app uses artificial intelligence to learn your writing style and adapt your suggested words. This includes emojis as well. The interface is also quite clean.
There is a variety of size and layout options including an intriguing “thumb” mode which creates a space between the left and right half of the keyboard. In addition, SwiftKey is excellent at managing multiple languages and is one of the only keyboards on which you don’t need to manually swap between them. Just choose the languages you want to use in the settings, and text prediction and special characters will work for all languages automatically. It’s very clever.
Best for simplicity: Google Keyboard
Google’s Keyboard has a simple and clean interface that just works. Material design themes, a ton of languages, text-to-speech, gesture typing – it has a lot to offer. You can download this keyboard for free in the Play Store with no in-app purchases. It’s compatible with devices running Android 4.4 and up, so there’s no good reason not to give Google Keyboard a go.
Google Keyboard uses its special speech-to-text system to make voice dictation a whole lot easier. It’s able to take advantage of the Android advancements in voice recognition. You can still run into some problems with the keyboard recognizing some of your words but most of the time it’s correct.
Like with SwiftKey, Google Keyboard learns from what you write. This is not just in the messages you write but across Google services. That means when you use other apps Google Keyboard gets plenty of information on how you write and what it can do to make further suggestions.
Best for emojis: TouchPal
TouchPal is heavily focused on emojis/emoji art/smileys/pictures, but it also features over 85 languages, swipe/glide functionality, cloud prediction and contextual prediction. Don’t let its cutesy Play Store description and branding put you off, there is far more to TouchPal than colors and themes; it’s a straight-up keyboard for messaging quickly and comfortably, and should easily make its way onto any best keyboard list.
You really have to love emojis to enjoy this keyboard. Your recipients will also need to really have a tolerance for the ridiculous amount of these that you send. They come in blocks sometimes 10 x 10. These texts are quite expressive as well as being funny at times.
You are able to put huge amounts of emoticon art with some really neat themes but despite the complexity of these it is really easy to use. You can quickly find a block with about 100 emoji characters that really expresses what you’re trying to convey.
Swype is a popular keyboard which employs the swipe (or glide) method for character input. Swype learns from your messaging habits, automatically updating its dictionary with new phrases that you type. It creates automatic spaces between words to speed up your workflow and adapts to common mistakes you make.
Though swiping is an acquired taste, if you want the best example of it, you should look no further than Swype. You might want to try it out in a blank Google Doc before you get started messaging your contacts. It could take you a few hours to get proficient enough to send messages at a decent rate.
While swiping is great for Swype, the normal keyboard works quite well also. There is a decent auto-correct and the keyboard is simple enough to use if you get sick of swiping. If you permanently get tired of swiping you should probably try one of the other apps on this list.
Best for GIFs: Go Keyboard
Go Keyboard is an excellent all-around keyboard with great functions from many of the apps on this list. You can easily swipe if you so choose. There are some intuitive suggestions for auto-fill and auto correct. The keyboard is also very stylish with a minimalist approach.
The GIF keyboard is the real strength of Go Keyboard and shows great foresight by the company. GIF language is becoming popular and could replace many elements of our written language within messaging. This is a similar trend to emojis replacing large chunks of written expression of emotion. GIF language contains subtleties that text doesn’t capture, and in a much more entertaining way.
With Go Keyboard it’s really simple to get going on using GIFs in your messages. You can choose from themes like Star Wars, Leonardo DiCaprio or the Oscars. You could also sort through emotions and expressions like LOL, excited or tears.