I am always flipping from one keyboard app to the other on my mobile platform of choice.. Android This is in a quest to get the best possible, since the keyboard is one of the most used applications on a mobile device. Your choice radically impacts your productivity, negatively or positively. The multiplicity of options, on Android, and the ease of flipping from one keyboard to the other, makes the task of choosing “the keyboard” simple and simultaneously complex.
In my search for the perfect keyboard, it has become quite obvious that the “best” keyboard application does not exist. There will always be one compromise or the other. There is none you find that doesn’t
have one undesirable attribute or the other.
I have used, among others, the following keyboard applications, in no particular order of preference:
Swiftkey, Swype, TouchPal, Kii, Google keyboard (and its variants), WordWave, iKnowU, Magic Keyboard,Minuum and others.
The following are the problems that drive me away from a keyboard. Some of these keyboard apps have more that one of these deficiencies:
The size of a keyboard app is critical when using an Android device with small internal space. Yes, you could move some of those keyboards to the (external) sdCard, but that would affect performance.
The keyboard I have found with the smallest size is called MultiLing “O”. At well under 500 MB code size, its a marvel of configurability and effectiveness.
For a device with small internal memory, I wholeheartedly recommend this, as well as a magic Keyboard.
Some keyboard apps lag horribly after some period of use. The lag can be so bad that you wait for as much as ten seconds after a character is tapped! This is usually due to the app learning your usage pattern, with its database getting progressively bigger. For instance, my favorite keyboard app Swiftkey lags horribly on my current device, So do Swype and Touchpal, particularly under intense and rapid input.
If you use a device with small RAM, say 1 GigaByte or less, this problem is more aggravated.
I love a a keyboard you can trust to autocorrect and autocomplete your words with intelligence. There is nothing as sweet as tapping/swiping on your keyboard, rapidly, without having to check every single word
for correctness, and being totally confident that your keyboard would present the words you meant as default (or, minimally have your intended word as one of the ones presented for your selection). A keyboard like Swiftkey excels at this. but, then, that lag. Sigh.
It would be wonderful to tap.. “sn” and have it expanded to “Satya Nadella Of MicroSoft” or Swipe
“lh” and have it expanded automatically to “Lord Harry”. It makes the typing of repetitive (and/or cumbersome) sequence of characters easy to handle, as well as saves you tonnes of typing. I type “gm” I get my convoluted Gmail email address, etc.
It is surprising that both Swiftkey and Swype both lack this particular feature, being two of the most highly rated keyboards on Android.
Not surprisingly ,most of the other keyboard apps that have this feature don’t have a standard way of storing their “shortcuts plus expansion”. It is therefore difficult to carry your complete definitions with you from one keyboard app to the other, leading to keyboard lock in. Notably, it is only Kii Keyboard, Google KeyBoard (and variants like KK Keyboard and AKA keyboard) that share the standard Google KeyBoard shortcut expansion definitions.
There are apps on Google Play Store that allow you back up the user dictionary, but none backs up both the shortcuts plus the expansion.
What’s I do to mitigate the problem of having to redefine “shortcuts plus expansion” is by using the “Macro Expansion” module of the “eXposed FrameWork’. This solution is not perfect, but is usable.
For me, the things enumerated above constitute the most critical faults a keyboard app could have and they are weighty enough to be dealbreakers. The omission of Other useability niceties like navigation keys and clipboard facilities are forgivable, but not those.
Currently,I make use of the discontinued Kii keyboard (primarily for its lightweightedness, lack of lag and accuracy in swiping) and the ported LG G3 Keyboard (for its inexorable accuracy when tapping, its
constant app size, decent swiping proficiency and absolutely inexotable lack of lag).
The day Swiftkey or Swype both cure their laggy nature (on lower spec’d devices), I would be back to them in a jiffy. For me (and given the race reviews), they represent the best available in the Android
Once they do that, it is my belief that all other keyboard apps on Android would be left in the dust.
But, heck, do those apps lag!