11 feature-rich keyboard replacements for Android and iOS

Swipe away your stock smartphone keyboard in favor of one that’s faster, more accurate, and packed with features tailored to your needs

11 feature-rich keyboard apps for Android and iOS

11 feature-rich keyboard replacements for Android and iOS

Anyone who’s typed anything on a smartphone keyboard has surely experienced its inherent shortcomings, whether it’s cramped key mappings ripe for fat-fingering, inexplicable autocorrect suggestions, lagging responsiveness, or oft-used keys buried in submenus of submenus.

Fortunately, a wealth of virtual keyboard alternatives are now available for download from your device of choice's app store. In fact, virtual keyboards are more usable than ever, thanks to major technological advancements made by third-party app developers over the past half-decade. Today’s keyboard apps are the smartest we’ve seen yet, using sophisticated algorithms, aggressive autocorrect, and gesture-driven input to achieve a fast, natural, intuitive typing experience.

Here are 11 of the most unique and innovative replacements for your Android or iOS device's stock keyboard. 

Adaptxt

Adaptxt

Adaptxt is a powerful newcomer to the increasingly competitive virtual keyboard market. True to its name, Adaptxt adapts to context and use to stand out from the pack. Constantly aware of your physical location, the app in which you’re typing, and word usage trends from around the world, Adaptxt’s word predictions are intuitive, fast, and constantly evolving.

What helps make Adaptxt smarter than the rest is its implementation of more than 40 industry-specific dictionaries. These sources allow Adaptxt to predict jargon custom-tailored to medical, legal, financial, and business professions, among many others. It also features basics, such as gesture typing and customizable layouts, and claims to have faster haptic feedback (limited to Android) than other keyboard replacements, which in turn facilitates a more natural typing experience.

Adaptxt is available for free on both Google Play and the App Store.

App: Adaptxt
Developer: KeyPoint Technologies
Availability: App Store (iOS) | Google Play (Android)
Price: Free

ai.type

ai.type

Few keyboards boast a better balance of personalization and power than ai.type, which, since its introduction, has been featured as a top 10 productivity app in more than 40 countries.

The ai.type keyboard is contextually aware and features aggressive autocorrect to facilitate fast, accurate typing, though what makes it worth a look is its real-time grammar check, powered by Ginger Software. Unlike other keyboards, ai.type predicts and corrects not only spelling missteps, but grammatical errors as well. It also boasts a robust selection of themes, dynamic resizing, emoji input, custom fonts and colors, and even a real-time calculator.

ai.type is available on Android and, as of last week, on iOS as well.

App: ai.type
Developer: A.I.type
Availability: App Store (iOS) | Google Play (Android)
Price: Free

Fleksy Keyboard

Fleksy Keyboard

The “it” keyboard of 2014, Fleksy Keyboard recently usurped Swype as the self-proclaimed fastest keyboard in the world and has since become an international best seller on Google Play and, with the release of iOS 8, Apple's App Store.

Recognizable for its striking design, which features three rows of large, easy-to-read keys and little else, Fleksy is more than a design ploy. Its upper hand is its killer autocorrect functionality: While all modern keyboards rely heavily on autocorrect algorithms, none is quite as efficient and powerful as Fleksy's, which interprets and analyzes a user's typing patterns rather than his or her vocabulary alone. By learning where a user's thumbs typically land, Fleksy is able to both predict and correct even the most inaccurate typing. Fleksy’s autocorrect is so powerful, in fact, that users can hide the keyboard altogether, allowing for an "invisible keyboard" that doesn't obscure the lower half of your screen.

Fleksy is offered in both free and premium $3.99 versions from Google Play, and for $0.99 on the App Store.

App: Fleksy Keyboard
Developer: Fleksy
Availability: App Store (iOS) | Google Play (Android)
Price: iOS: $0.99 | Android: $3.99

Google Keyboard

Google Keyboard

Otherwise known as Android's stock keyboard, the Google Keyboard has evolved over the past six years to become one of Android users' go-to favorites for a fast, easy virtual keyboard. If your phone isn't running stock Android, you might want to consider this alternative.

Of course, news hasn't always been great for Google's own keyboard: In early versions, shipped on original Android flagships like the G1 and the Motorola Droid, Android's stock keyboard suffered due to original hardware's lack of multitouch support. Early Android smartphones were notorious for offering a subpar typing experience compared to the unmatched simplicity of the original iPhone.

But it's all changed for the better: Google's keyboard is now far more accurate than it was in versions past, thanks to improvements to both hardware and software, and recent releases have added gesture typing and improved floating previews, bringing Google Keyboard up to par with its competitors. Google Keyboard also offers one of the most accurate voice typing capabilities available today, powered by Google's voice-recognition technology.

Google Keyboard is free and available for all Android smartphones.

App: Google Keyboard
Developer: Google
Availability: Google Play (Android)
Price: Free

Kii Keyboard

Kii Keyboard

One of the newest keyboards to hit Google Play, Kii is a fun, highly customizable solution that calls itself a hybrid of the best features of Swiftkey, Swype, Google Keyboard, and more. In practice, it's a fun option that works remarkably well, even if it's more playful than powerful.

Kii offers the works, including predictive text, gesture typing, and emoji input, but its main strength lies in its personalization. Kii's settings enable users to select custom themes, backgrounds, key colors, and, most unique, key size, padding, and positions. Customizability to this degree is rare, and it allows users to create a keyboard shaped and sized to fit their needs and preferences, which ultimately leads to increased comfort, accuracy, and speed.

Kii is currently available for free on Google Play with various $3.99 in-app purchases.

App: Kii Keyboard
Developer: Kii Dev
Availability: Google Play (Android)
Price: Free

Minuum

Minuum

One of the most unique keyboards to be released in recent memory, Minuum completely reshapes the keyboard as we know it. By shrinking the standard QWERTY keypad into what it calls a "single dimension," Minuum allows for a larger onscreen viewing area than other virtual keyboards.

Minuum relies heavily on a specialized autocorrect algorithm that interprets your inputs within the context of what you're typing, eliminating the need for the precision commonly achieved with a standard keyboard layout. Most users will find a pretty steep learning curve, and on initial use, Minuum isn't as accurate as its competition. But once Minuum learns how you and your fingers adapt to its single-row model, its predictions become faster and more accurate. Luckily for those who simply cannot acclimate to Minuum's design, there is an option to use a standard four-row layout.

Minuum is available for $3.99 on iOS and $1.99 on Google Play, with a free version available for Android users only.

App: Minuum
Developer: Whirlscape
Availability: App Store (iOS) | Google Play (Android)
Price: iOS: $3.99 | Android: $1.99, free version available

SwiftKey Keyboard

SwiftKey Keyboard

With humble beginnings, a deluge of startup money, and countless awards won to date, SwiftKey's story exemplifies what it means to be successful in the increasingly competitive mobile app industry. Since its introduction in 2010, SwiftKey has gone from obscurity to worldwide recognition at a breakneck speed.

Its successes aren't unwarranted. SwiftKey is often regarded as the fastest, most accurate keyboard option available, thanks in large part to its signature predictive text algorithms: Instead of correcting what's already been typed, SwiftKey predicts what you'll type next, constantly learning from the individual user's patterns, styles, and vocabulary as well as the broader public's trends. SwiftKey also packs a litany of bells and whistles, such as custom themes, cloud syncing of user dictionaries for use across multiple devices, and gesture typing.

Because of its need to learn from the user, it takes some time for SwiftKey's full potential to be felt, but once the relationship between user and software is established, SwiftKey shines. It's available for free on both Android and iOS.

App: SwiftKey Keyboard
Developer: SwiftKey
Availability: App Store (iOS) | Google Play (Android)
Price: Free

Swype

Swype

In the beginning, there was Swype. Long before Android and iOS became what they are today, Swype took the relatively brand-new smartphone market by storm. First introduced on Samsung’s Omnia II in 2010, Swype was the first alternative to the standard "touch and type" QWERTY keyboards that dominated the landscape before it. Today, Swype has become the most downloaded third-party keyboard across all major platforms, and it even ships preloaded on major flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Swype was the first keyboard to introduce gesture typing, the "swipe to type" method that has since become synonymous with speed, and it relies heavily on advanced artificial intelligence for accuracy. Swype's Living Language feature automatically adds crowd-sourced trending words to its internal dictionary, while its Smart Editor technology analyzes words within a sentence to determine whether there’s a word or phrase that makes more contextual sense. In short, Swype supplements both users' and its own occasional inaccuracies with a suite of powerful tools that help make it one of the smartest keyboards in the world.

Swype is free on Android, with a premium version available for 99 cents on both Android and iOS.

App: Swype
Developer: Nuance Communications
Availability: App Store (iOS) | Google Play (Android)
Price: iOS: 99 cents | Android: 99 cents, free version available

Thumb Keyboard

Thumb Keyboard

Designed with two-handed typists in mind, Thumb Keyboard is a must for tablet and phablet users alike. Its main feature is its ability to split across the screen, dividing the keyboard into two distinct sides, similar to what Apple offers on the iPad keyboard. This allows users to type while holding a large device with two hands, a common requisite for tablet and phablet use.

Thumb Keyboard also features a number of nonsplit keyboards tailored for a variety of screen sizes, as well as a one-handed mode designed specifically for use with large-screen smartphones. It also packs the standard suite of features like aggressive autocorrect, word prediction, and speech-to-text.

Thumb Keyboard is available on Google Play for Android phones and tablets for $2.49.

App: Thumb Keyboard
Developer: Beansoft
Availability: Google Play (Android)
Price: $2.49

TipType Keyboard Lite

TipType Keyboard Lite

TipType is the only keyboard on our list that lacks predictive typing, but it makes up for the omission with an innovative layout that it calls the future of mobile input.

TipType’s approach is nothing if not unique: The standard QWERTY keyboard is split here into 12 large buttons, divided into three rows. Each button contains up to five characters, which are selected by swiping in their general direction; there’s no pressing here, other than to generate a space -- think of TipType as T9 typing facilitated by gestures.

TipType’s creators are so sure of its accuracy and speed that they're offering $500 to anyone who could type faster on another nonpredictive keyboard. Marketing gimmicks aside, TipType produces accurate results, even if it requires an enormous amount of patience to adapt to its unique gesture typing.

TipType is limited to Android and is available on Google Play for free.

App: TipType Keyboard Lite
Developer: Xavit Soft
Availability: Google Play (Android)
Price: Free

TouchPal Keyboard

TouchPal Keyboard

With a cultlike following and more than 10 million downloads on Google Play, TouchPal is an alternative to Swype and Swiftkey that relies on gesture typing and contextual prediction that it claims will save users 90 percent of keystrokes.

Aside from its fast, fluid TouchPal Curve gesture typing, TouchPal's standout feature is TouchPal Wave. Similar to how other keyboards predict words based on gestures and awareness, TouchPal Wave predicts whole sentences using historical patterns learned from a user's tweets, SMS messages, and emails.

TouchPal also features cloud syncing so that all of your devices have access to your custom settings, as well as more than 800 emoji, resizable keyboards, and custom themes.

It’s available on both iOS and Android for free, though TouchPal Wave is currently limited to the Android version.

App: TouchPal Keyboard
Developer: TouchPal
Availability: App Store (iOS) | Google Play (Android)
Price: Free