Google Keyboard supports both tap- and swipe-based input, and does a decent job at next-word prediction. It learns as you type and can sync your history across any devices you use over time. And it features a minimalist design that fits in perfectly with the Material Design vibe seen on Android and an ever-increasing number of third-party apps.
The caveat is that Google Keyboard is pretty bare-bones compared to other options. You can't do much to customize it, nor can you switch to alternate layouts (like a compact or split configuration) for easier tablet typing. And you won't find much in the way of add-ons or beyond-the-basics features.
The question you have to ask yourself is whether all of that sounds like an advantage or a limitation to you. If simple is what you're after, Google Keyboard is tough to top.
SwiftKey: The total package
Cost: Free, with optional in-app purchases for extra themes
Who should use it: Someone who's looking for a versatile and excellent all-around typing experience for smartphones and tablets
Some keyboards have specific approaches that appeal to certain types of users. SwiftKey is different. It's just a solid all-around performer -- not a member of any particular niche, but simply a commendable keyboard that excels at all types of touch-typing.
SwiftKey is second to none at prediction, using your typing history to offer timesaving and often shockingly accurate guesses of what word or phrase you're going to want next. When it isn't figuring out your thoughts for you, the app allows you to type by tapping or swiping (interchangeably). You can choose from a variety of size and layout options, including a positionable floating keyboard and a split-apart thumb-typing setup -- both of which can make the awkward act of typing on a tablet a little more natural.
Other SwiftKey highlights include automatically synced data and preferences across devices, a variety of theme choices and seamless support for auto-correct even as you move between multiple languages.
If you don't have any specific needs and just want a classy keyboard that's customizable and easy to use, SwiftKey is a good place to start. (And despite its aforementioned Microsoft acquisition, the company swears it'll stay the course and continue to develop its Android app.)
Swype: The gesture-crazy keyboard
Cost: $0.99 with optional in-app purchases for extra themes (also available in free 30-day trial version)
Who should use it: People who really like using gestures to control text input
Swype was the first app to popularize the idea of typing by swiping your finger from one letter to another. While that method of input has since spread to numerous other places, Swype continues to do it exceptionally well while also offering a variety of other advanced gestures for controlling your keyboard.
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