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The best keyboard for Android

Keyboards for happy thumbs

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Survey the vast landscape of Android phones you can buy, and you'll find devices of all sizes, designs, and prices. Many of them have giant screens, which are great for all the cool stuff you can do with a smartphone, like browsing the web, playing games, and making video calls. But what you won't find are phones with physical keyboards, and it can be pretty hard to type on a phone with a nearly 6-inch screen, especially with one hand.

Fortunately, for years Android has let you customize the keyboard you use, and there are countless options in the Google Play Store. You can get keyboards that let you trace, keyboards with non-standard layouts, keyboards that shrink down to tiny sizes, and keyboards that let you drop in images and emoji with ease. You can even get a keyboard that only types Hodor, if that's what you're looking for.

But what we're looking for is the best keyboard for everyday use, the one that makes it easier to type on these gigantic slabs of glass. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best keyboard for Android comes from Android's own backyard.

The Winner

If you want the best typing experience on your Android device, you should just use Google’s own Keyboard. The Google Keyboard combines great tap-typing response, smart autocorrect and word prediction, and a super useful tracing feature in a fast, good-looking keyboard that works everywhere you can input text on Android. It also has quick access to Google’s great voice dictation and gets smarter word prediction the more you use it. We really like Google Keyboard’s consistent and reliable performance, and it provides the best blend of tap-typing and tracing you can get.

The Google Keyboard has customizable settings for sounds, vibrations, and how aggressive the autocorrect will be. There aren’t a ton of themes to choose from, but the ones included match Android’s current aesthetic nicely.

A number of Android phones have the Google Keyboard preinstalled out of the box, but if you’re using a Samsung, HTC, LG, or some other phone that has a custom keyboard, you can grab Google’s version for free from the Play Store.

The Runner Up

We’re particular to Google’s Keyboard, but a lot of people like SwiftKey on Android, and they aren’t wrong to do so. SwiftKey has tracing, autocorrect, and a ton of themes to customize its appearance, but what really sets it apart is its word prediction engine. It can tap into your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, text messages, and contacts list to learn how you type to predict what words you’re going to use before you even type a letter. And of course, the more you use it, the smarter it gets.

The area where SwiftKey doesn’t work as well as the Google Keyboard is in tap-typing — it just doesn’t feel as nice or as responsive as Google’s version. That’s not so much of an issue if you primarily use tracing or rely on word prediction, but we found the easiest way to type was to combine tapping, tracing, and word prediction as needed.

The Others