Android's open source nature makes it one of the only mobile operating systems that allows its users to swap out the default keyboard--and why not? If you can choose the keyboard for your desktop computer, then surely you should be allowed to do so on your mobile phone. There are a plethora of keyboard applications available in the Google Play store, but here's a small helping of some of the ones that are worth a download.
Why bother going third-party when you can choose to stick with Android's native keyboard? Google's keyboard appis readily available in the Google Play store so you can have access to Android's stock offerings regardless of what your phone manufacturer stuck you with. It offers gesture and voice typing, as well as next-word prediction, and it's all wrapped up in Android's signature Holo design. Of the keyboard apps featured in this roundup, Google's keyboard also sports the most simplistic design.
Swype was one of the first keyboard applications to introduce swipe-style typing, though it was previously available only as a side-loaded application.
Swype's whole modus operandi is to make it easier for its users to type a sentence without lifting a finger, but that still comes with its own learning curving. It also features gesture typing, which can seem like a bit of overkill when it comes to things like swiping across the screen to get the number pad rather than long-pressing a button.
Swype's overall prediction engine becomes more accurate with every key stroke. If you don't like what it predicts, choose another word and it'll know for next time. You can also backup your personal dictionary, should you switch phones, and enable "crowd sourcing" from others applications, like Facebook and Gmail, to learn your typing style. And if you'd rather not type, you can use the app's built-in Dragon Dictation capabilities to dictate. It also comes with a few pre-installed themes for added variety.
If you end up liking Swype, you'll have to pay 99 cents after 30 days to keep using the app.
SwiftKey refers to itself as the "mind-reading" keyboard because of its prediction engine, but it's only as accurate as you make it. You'll have to give it access to observe your activity within other applications so that it can populate your personal dictionary, but you can also back that up to your Google account and carry it over to another device. SwiftKey will also pay mind to any "trending" phrases in your vocabulary and archive them for future use, and there's a feature that will guess what your next word is, and then allow you to simply type out a sentence word-by-word rather than by each individual letter. It saves quite a bit of time and is especially helpful if you don't have full dexterity of your hands.
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