While you probably don’t think about it much, your phone’s keyboard is one of the most heavily used things on your phone. So, if you don’t like yours, or if it keeps auto-correcting to a typo or doesn’t have the features you want, why not get a new one?
Keyboards are one of the many things you can customize on an Android, so don’t feel pressured to stick with the default keyboard if it’s just not your cup of tea. Most third-party keyboard apps offer plentiful customization options, access to emoji and GIFs, and are available in hundreds of languages. However, each approaches things slightly differently, so here are the most important features to be aware of:
- Layout Options: The fun thing about these keyboard apps is how much you can personalize them. You can adjust the size of the keyboard, or opt for a one-handed or floating keyboard layout. Some let you customize further by adding on a number row or toggling the haptic feedback and keyboard sounds. A few even have advanced settings you can tinker with, like how many milliseconds long the delay of a long-press should be.
- Text Options: The best Android keyboard apps work in hundreds of languages, and let you easily add new words to your phone’s dictionary. Many of them offer predictive text suggestions, which is great to have if you’re not sure how to spell a difficult word and gives you control over text correction options. Plenty of keyboard apps support voice and gesture typing, so check for that as well if it’s something you’ll need. Overall, look for a keyboard with helpful features designed to help you type quickly and accurately, whether you’ll be typing emails, social media posts, or your next novel.
- Emoji & GIF Access: A picture is worth a thousand words right? If words just won’t cut it, make sure you choose a keyboard app with built-in support for emoji and stickers, along with easy access to GIFs.
- Themes: If you’re totally bored by the color of your phone’s default keyboard, choose an app that lets you customize that, too. Many apps offer a wide selection of keyboard colors and holiday-specific themes, or even let you upload one of your own photos as your keyboard’s background.
- Cost: Most keyboard apps for Android are free, which is what you should expect them to be as well. Be wary of upgrades or subscription plans, as they just aren’t something you need to pay for. On the other hand, if they are offering a fun feature you’re interested in, go for it, just make sure you know how much you’ll be charged before signing up.
Like other Google products, Gboard (free) is feature-rich, yet minimal and non-intrusive. The keyboard offers stellar word predictions based on machine learning, and every feature is available to you upfront—there are no in-app purchases. Gboard makes it easy to search and send stickers, emojis, and GIFs, and you can even toggle a feature that shows your recently used emojis in the suggestion strip of the symbols keyboard. You can set up a one-handed style keyboard or a floating keyboard, and the handy text-editing feature brings up navigational arrows so you can easily move through text you’ve typed and select, copy, or paste it.
The keyboard boasts hefty sticker and GIF resources, along with a few simple keyboard themes. Gboard allows voice typing, glide typing, and handwriting. Multilingual typing support provides autocorrect suggestions from your enabled languages and means you won’t have to manually switch between languages; likewise, it has Google Translate built in to the keyboard. The app also has gesture cursor control and delete, lets you adjust keyboard height and number row appearance, and has a toggle for haptic feedback and keyboard sounds. Of course, there’s also a fair selection of themes and other personalization options to sift through.
Microsoft’s SwiftKey (free) is a long-standing titan of a keyboard app. It’s got an artillery of features, and is overall an absolutely solid choice, though Gboard has taken the lead in text prediction since stepping onto the field. SwiftKey supports gesture typing and cloud syncing for all of your devices, and it supports GIFs, stickers, and emoji. It also has an impressive array of tools and settings for autocorrect, as well as a clipboard and over 100 keyboards for different languages at your fingertips.
The keyboard offers tons of themes, so you can personalize how your keyboard looks. Choose from simple colorful options like “Minimal Bright Blue Grey” or an ombre “Spotlight Fuschia,” get some high-contrast options like “Vivid Lime,” or something holiday-themed like “Lucky Clover” or “Pumpkin.” If you like a challenge, you can opt for the “Ninja Trainer” or “Ninja Pro” options, which remove the visual elements of the keyboard, leaving you with a black area where you guess where the letters are. You can also upload a photo of your own to sit behind your keyboard if you want to remember a vacation or your friends.
Chrooma (free, with in-app purchases) combines great features with pretty aesthetics. It automatically changes color according to the app you’re using, so red for YouTube or green for WhatsApp, etc. Thanks to AI, it can also provide context-specific word predictions that help you communicate more efficiently. It lets you customize things like font and keyboard size, and has a Neural Action Row, which provides suggestions for punctuation, numbers, emoji, and more. Chrooma even supports gesture typing and has Night Mode, which changes the keyboard’s color tone when it detects low light.
The only downside to Chrooma is that it locks the majority of its features behind a monthly subscription. By upgrading, you’ll get rid of ads, unlock all themes and layout options, and gain access to Chrooma’s proofreading service and business suite. It’s $2.99 per month, $6.99 per year, or $11.99 for lifetime access. Without upgrading, though, you can still enjoy a few skins, themes, and basic layout options.
If you’re looking for a keyboard app with features for days, give Fleksy (free, with in-app purchases) a whirl. The app’s lightning-fast speed has been recognized by Guinness World Records, and it also stores what you type locally, not in a cloud, so it’s the best keyboard app for privacy. It supports typing in over 50 languages, and you can seamlessly switch between languages as needed. You can customize the way your keyboard looks (and sounds), and get help from Fleksy’s predictive text suggestions and gesture typing along the way.
Fleksy offers tons of colorful themes you can personalize your keyboard with, though a few do require you to purchase them before use. Regardless of whether or not you make any purchases, you’ll have access to GIFs, emoji, and stickers. And one of the coolest features of Fleksy? The built-in mini apps. With these, you can find GIFs, video clips, memes, Yelp food recommendations, and more right from the keyboard. While most of these features are also available in Gboard, Flesky lets you use them without sharing data with Google. So, for example, if you’re in a group chat, you won’t even have to open up a separate app to find GIFs or make lunch. You can even add on extensions, like a numbers row, editor, hotkeys, and more. Super convenient!
For Android users who prefer to use open-source software, AnySoftKeyboard (free) is the best bet. This keyboard is feature-rich and offers many of the tools and settings you’d see in popular third-party keyboard apps, with a few extras you’re not likely to find anywhere else. The app offers predictive text and customizable autocorrect settings that’ll work across any languages you choose to use. It supports voice typing and gestures, and also has an incognito mode that won’t track or store what you type.
Make AnySoftKeyboard yours by choosing one of the many themes or set up dark mode or power-saving mode. You can keep the standard look of the keyboard, set it to Compact or Split, or swap in a special keyboard just for numbers, dates, email, or URL addresses. The options for AnySoftKeyboard are pretty much limitless.
If you feel like you’re making typos or you tend to ramble on, you might benefit from using the Grammarly (free) keyboard app. You’ll have the power of the popular grammar-checking app at your fingertips, and the ability to draft error-free text no matter which app you’re using. Grammarly checks for spelling and punctuation errors, and keeps an eye out for synonyms and stronger words. It even provides you with short explanations about any errors it catches, helping you understand them and learn how to avoid them in the future.
The keyboard app works in any app your default keyboard would work in, including email, social media, Google Docs, and more. It provides text suggestions and works with your personal dialect settings and dictionary. The app doesn’t offer much by way of personalization, however, but you do have two themes to choose from—light or dark.