Quick: What are the most important apps on your phone when it comes to getting stuff done?
If you're like most people I've asked, "the keyboard" probably wasn't one of the first things that came to mind. When you stop and think about it, though, the interface that lets you input text plays a critical role in your mobile productivity. Whether you're editing documents or simply sending an email, it has more of an impact on your on-the-go efficiency than almost anything else on your device.
And yet, it's all too easy to settle on one keyboard -- whether you downloaded it yourself or just stuck with your device's default -- and then never revisit the subject again. Even I'm guilty of that: I started using SwiftKey years ago and hadn't given much thought to other options since. It wasn't until the app's sale to Microsoft last month that I stopped and said, "Huh. I wonder if this is still the best keyboard for me?"
As it turns out, Android's array of keyboard apps is constantly evolving, from sophisticated next-word prediction to customizable one-touch buttons, advanced swiping options and even handwritten input. There's a rich and diverse field of choices out there these days, each with its own set of advantages. If you haven't taken the time to evaluate your mobile typing setup in a while, you might be in for a surprise.
I sifted through the Play Store's numerous keyboard apps to find the ones with the most compelling, polished and distinctive user experiences. The titles outlined below are the apps that stood out most to me, organized by their strengths and for what types of users they make the most sense.
So start stretching those fingers, folks: It's time to find the right typing companion for you.
Fleksy: The tap-typing power user's dream
Cost: Free, with optional in-app purchases for extra themes or extension slots
Who should use it: People who prefer tap-based typing and want a highly customizable keyboard with lots of clever bells and whistles
Looking for something a little different from the typical Android typing experience? Fleksy might be just the app you need to shake things up.
Fleksy revolves around the idea of customizable extensions that let you add a variety of interesting functions onto your keyboard's top row. The Editor extension, for instance, gives you one-touch buttons for commands such as copying and pasting, along with a trackpad-like bar for accurately positioning your cursor. The Hotkeys extension allows you to create icons that insert your own custom phrases (like your street address or a favorite emoji) with a single tap. And the Launcher extension gives you the ability to place shortcuts to other apps right within the keyboard for easy access.
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