A keyboard is an integral part of any Mobile device. Very often keyboard is what defines your cellphone experience. There are physical keyboards which are self-explanatory and then there are on-screen(touch-screen ones) keyboards also called soft keyboards. Having a touch screen gives user flexibility to have a keyboard of his choice or at least gives choices.I have tried many keyboards on Android, from good ones to great ones, some weird ones and some bad ones too! . Here are my thoughts on few keyboards I have used and few more for you to try.
Important : Keyboards from third parties may record keystrokes which include passwords , PIN numbers etc., Please note this before using any of these.
1. Swype : I believe it is the most popular keyboard available for android. With swype you need to just swipe along the letters in the word. You need not be accurate , in fact even if you skip some letter swype does a good job in predicting the word. If I am not wrong I have heard that swype doesn’t take the swiped letters but the shape of the swipe to predict the word. Isn’t that cool ! do check it out for yourself. Sadly swype is still in beta, and beta is closed(while this blog was written). No problem there are alternatives for swype like SlideIT and Shape writer which does good enough job but swype has less clumsy, more classy and very clean interface. Swype is available in English , Dutch, Danish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Russian
2. SwiftKey Keyboard : SwiftKey is one more option which is good. SwiftKey uses conventional click on the letters, but uniqueness and usability comes from inbuilt intelligence. Yes, SwiftKey has intelligence (it learns) that enables to predict whole words with few letter clicks. If you don’t mind giving it access to your SMS , it will scan through your SMS and understand your writing style right from the beginning as opposed to learning curve if access not given.But again it is an issue of privacy, which is left to your discretion. SwiftKey is available in many languages you can check this link for some more info on this keyboard.
3. 8pen : I came across this key board yesterday only , immediately bought from the market to try out (costs 70 Rs). This has a weird interface. Uses swipes in the shape of 8 to type letters, you can have custom gestures for frequently used words. It takes some time to get used to, but I liked this patent pending idea. I didn’t like to use it as my default keyboard as i am used to qwerty more and unlearning it is a difficult process. Do try it out from market(no demo version available !).
4. Messagease : One more keyboard with very different interface, which doesn’t use QWERTY interface. It uses a combination of swiping and click for entering different letters.This keyboard again requires time to get used to. Do check it out on market !
You may want to check Review of Android 2.1 for Xperia X10 also (Link open in New tab/window)