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5 best keyboard apps for faster typing

Scott Adam Gordon
22

Tap tap tap, tappety tap tap, tap tap tappy tap, tappy tap tap… oh, sorry I was just busy typing something. Typing words into a computer is a breeze for me with my giant keyboard and giant fingers, heck, I could type all day (if anybody asks - I do type all day). But when it comes to typing on my smartphone, I often struggle. It’s never fast enough, it never autocorrects autocorrectly and it often leads to frustration. Today I’ve been looking at alternative keyboards for a quicker typing experience, using a device I’ve never sent a message with before, the LG G2. These are my findings... 

swype teclado nexus 4
© AndroidPIT

Swype

Swype is a popular keyboard which employs the swipe (or "glide") method for character input. You slide your finger across the letters of the word you wish to type, and then let go once it’s finished (you can learn more in our article on swiping verses typing). It's a common feature on a most keyboards now, but nowhere is it better implemented than in Swype.

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. Only when you’re swiping very fast do you encounter problems, but it’s silky smooth for the vast majority of the time and highly responsive. I’m a long-time fan of Swype, though I recognize the swiping technique is an acquired taste. If you want the best example of it, however, then look no further than Swype - the autospace feature alone means faster typing. 

androidpit swype
Swype has a very traditional interface. © AndroidPIT / Nuance Communications, Inc

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 isn’t the only keyboard that offers predictive sentence creating but it might be most useful here. Based on past messages you have typed, SwiftKey is able to guess what the next words in your sentence will be. For example, if you normally follow the word “how” with “are you,” then you can be sure that when you type "how" in future it will offer "are" as the next word. It's an attribute that often allows you to type common sentences in seconds.

There are some great options for keyboard size and layout to suit most preferences, including an intriguing “thumb” mode which creates a space between the left and right half of the keyboard. I don’t know exactly how this improves functionality when using your thumb, but it certainly didn't harm the experience in my tests. It's a convenient keyboard and is the only completely free product on our list. Download it and see what you think. 

androidpit swiftkey
SwiftKey's layout can be customized in a number of ways. © AndroidPIT / SwiftKey

Adaptxt

Adaptxt utilizes the standard input method or swipe, but swiping definitely works best. It comes with a number of unique features, like enabling you to post straight to Twitter or Facebook once you’ve typed a message, and it can even use your GPS to give word suggestions, like street names or landmarks, based on your current location.

Adaptxt also contains the ability to put your keyboard in “private mode”, meaning it won’t learn any of the terms or phrases you use while its enabled. It's something I'd like to see in other keyboards, though maybe it’s a function that’s of more use to me than most other people.

I find it annoying that pressing backspace deletes the whole word, not just individual letters, when trying to make quick edits, and overall it doesn’t seem quite as responsive as Swype. However, Adaptxt beats most other keyboards on features and customization options, so it's well worth checking out.

androidpit adaptxt
The first three words in the picture were intended to be duck, pidgeon and bird, so maybe Adaptxt takes a little getting used to. © AndroidPIT / KeyPoint Technologies

Fleksy

The first keyboard on the list which doesn't employ swiping, Fleksy nonetheless focuses on speed and accuracy, with large buttons and brilliant autocorrect. It's extremely user-friendly but also houses additionally features like keyboard shrink and even the ability to make the keyboard invisible. Typing with the invisible keyboard actually worked surprisingly well (I was surprised it worked at all, to be honest) but I can’t really see a practical application for it, except to show others how quirky your keyboard can be.

I find the default button size a bit large for my personal tastes but I can’t deny its efficiency. It delivers accurate typing, and the simple swipe up and swipe down functions for correcting / adding new words to the dictionary are great. Pressing a button or swiping to make a space does seem slow when other keyboards come with automatic spacing, but for those not yet onboard with how swiping handles, this is my top recommendation for standard typing. 

androidpit fleksy
The large characters will please fans of two-thumb typing. © AndroidPIT / Fleksy

Minuum 

This is an intriguing little number. The Minuum keyboard isn’t strictly QWERTY-based, but is capable of shrinking in size to allow the alphabet to sit on one line. With such small keyboard, Minuum’s autocorrect function needed to be extremely tight to compensate for mistakes, but somehow I was able to type with relative ease and I quickly became proficient.

It’s a unique interface and I hope it becomes a success as it genuinely offers something new and credible. I don't usually feel a need to minimize my keyboard, personally, but if it is something you want to do I don’t think you could find a smaller or more efficient solution. Will it speed things up for regular users? I'm not sure. Try it for yourself. 

androidpit minuum
If nothing else, Minuum certainly looks cool. © AndroidPIT / Whirlscape

And the winner is...

My personal favorite is Swype. It looks the best and feels the smoothest - each glide is like a brush stroke across a canvas. SwiftKey is a close second with a significant improvement over stock Android keyboards at no cost, so maybe try this first. 

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Comments

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  • Flynn Mccoy 3 weeks ago Link

    There are a lot of great applications designed for smartphones and one of the is the keyboard app. It is a great way to modify and personalize your mobile according to your style and taste.

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  • Amat Mulisha 3 weeks ago Link

    fleksy is my choice but now using the new and fresh android L keyboard and i love it

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      Scott Adam Gordon 3 weeks ago Link

      I haven't used the Android L keyboard yet but I'm looking forward to seeing how it handles :)

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  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 3 weeks ago Link

    is it just me or why are y and z on the wrong position?

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      Scott Adam Gordon 3 weeks ago Link

      The top photo features a German style "QWERTZ" keyboard, the Y and the Z are switched because Z is much more frequently used in German language, and often follows T, like in "schnitzel". Most (if not all) of these apps support multiple languages :)

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      • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 3 weeks ago Link

        oh completely oversaw that, but I was asking about the other way, since as my name might assume, I am from Germany (ß isnt used anywhere else)

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        Scott Adam Gordon 3 weeks ago Link

        Oh ahahah I see! I should have realized that - you obviously pay more attention to detail than myself!

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    Kris Carlon 3 weeks ago Link

    I've got Swiftkey (paid), Swype (free), stock Android and now L Keyboard. Personally I like Swiftkey because I've invested so much in 'teaching' it, but Swype learnt the fastest. I'm loving L right now though and Minuum is next.

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      Scott Adam Gordon 3 weeks ago Link

      Yeah I'm currently using Swiftkey but it doesn't handle slang very well. Too much autocorrect can be a bad thing. I'm sure once I've put in a few weeks with it things will improve.

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      • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 3 weeks ago Link

        or you simply turn autocorrect off and rely on suggestions...
        that's what I do since I hate Autocorrect, have you ever seen the autocorrect fail sites that are making fun of (especially iphone's) autocorrect...

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        Scott Adam Gordon 3 weeks ago Link

        It's difficult because sometimes I need autocorrect and sometimes I don't. But yes I've seen those sites, they're funny but I never know if these things REALLY happened or if they are just fake.

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      • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 3 weeks ago Link

        yeah, but I usually have the suggestion way, since then I just tap the right suggestion and it works, and with swiftkeys suggestions on next word level, it is an even nicer feature...

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      • Bojan M. 3 weeks ago Link

        Seriously, I don't know a single person that uses autocorrect. Never used it myself. I prefer to have control while typing. As Philipp said, SwiftKey's suggestions is a very nice feature which I use as well.

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      • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 3 weeks ago Link

        I know one (with an iPhone) that uses auto correct and it sometimes does turn out hilarious...

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        Scott Adam Gordon 3 weeks ago Link

        Hmm I think I'm going to have to try this for myself.

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  • Abhishek Vohera 3 weeks ago Link

    According to me, Fleksy Keyboard is good ... :)

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  • Adrian Bäckman 3 weeks ago Link

    Hi, I would just like to make an honorable mention: Touchpal. It's a great all around keyboard with swiping, a ton of settings and some VERY useful gesture commands (like swiping up on the top row of keys, q to p, give you the numbers 1-0). The only thing it is lacking is in the autocorrect department, it might just be me
    but it dosen't feel that good. Please give this a try, you probably won't regret it :)

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    • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 3 weeks ago Link

      there may be no autocorrect but it's better that way, also the way the suggestions are made is really nice in Touchpal.

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      Scott Adam Gordon 3 weeks ago Link

      @AdrianBäckman, thanks for the tip - I'll have to check it out!

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  • Charles Ames 1 week ago Link

    I like SlideIt. It has the best documentation and instruction manual I've found. The features are abundant. I've tried many others and always go back to SlideIt. The importance of being able to access feature instructions, without losing one's place in whatever is being typed can't be exaggerated. SlideIt is the only keyboard I've found that makes that possible.

    User friendly is the key, for me.

    Chuck

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      Scott Adam Gordon 1 week ago Link

      Nice - SlideIt sounds like it could be good for Android/smartphone newcomers!

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