The Android OS is primarily designed for touch screens and may not deliver a great typing experience on your 'well-priced’ and by that we mean 'budget' smartphone. Typing becomes irksome due to constricted onscreen keyboards, minute buttons, accidental presses and so on. As much as some of us wish there was some exercise to shed that flab off your fingers, alternatives to stock options on the Android platform are always in plentiful, so they will always come to the rescue. You can run through some of these Alternative Keyboard options for your Android phone and see what suits you the best.
SwiftKey X: Rs. 199.76 (free trial version available)
This isn’t your usual tap and go app that also learns as you key in words. Once you start using the SwiftKey X keyboard, in a while its AI technology knows what exactly you are trying to say. It seems as if it's reading your mind and flashing the words. So, the number of key strokes is minimized and the prediction method ensures that you type quickly. As you don’t key in each letter, it also negates typos. The app also picks from your status on social sites like Facebook and Twitter to adapt to your style of writing. Although, you will have to work it out with the punctuations. Since the software learns from your typing, it isn’t going to be an instant process. You can first check out the trial version and then decide if it's worth your while to upgrade.
Reads your mind
Swype (beta): Free
Swype has turned out to be a significant alternative to all your virtual keyboard woes. Instead of tapping each letter, you have to simply slide your finger from letter to letter and lift it only between words. Swype now has a refined key layout for easier access and ropes in error correction and word prediction methods as well. So, if you’ve keyed in some letters and Swype has guessed the word wrong then you can instantly change it in the prediction box. While using Swype is as easy as it gets, getting it onto devices isn’t simple unless your phone has it pre-installed. Basically some manufacturers including Motorola, Samsung and LG, among others have the software bundled with some of their handset models. In case you don’t own a handset that has the pre-loaded Swype function then you can register and download Swype open beta.
No more tapping
Smart Keyboard Pro: Rs. 136.43 (free trial version available)
As the name suggests, it’s a ‘smart’ keyboard that supports multiple input functions for today’s ‘smart’phones. This multi-touch keyboard supports several languages, voice input, T9, compact mode, a smart dictionary, skins and prediction options. You can completely customize your phone’s keyboard as per your typing preferences. It’s more about a personalized typing experience. Now, the skins may not matter to all, but you could find handy shortcuts like press and hold a key to insert the symbol etc., quite appealing. You can change the keyboard button size and also switch to a 9-key or T9 layout. Here again you get the trial version to test before puchasing the full edition.
Various input methods
With 8Pen there is no tapping, swiping or voice input, it’s a completely unconventional way of text input for mobile handsets. It has a unique way of getting your letters keyed into the device. It could take a considerable amount of time getting used to this app or you may even decide on trashing it in a day. However, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty swift and easy, just like scribbling letters.
The keyboard is divided into four quadrants with a set of alphabets placed in each quadrant as you see in the above image. You have to drag your finger from the center to adjacent quadrants. The method may appear puzzling at first, but it’s pretty easy and swift as you practice. It also has some gestures that automatically type a word/name.
SlideIT Keyboard: Rs. 308.50 (free trial version available)
The SlideIt keyboard app follows a similar slide-and-type mechanism, as Swype. QWERTY keyboards usually call for two-thumb typing, but apps like Swype and SlideIt let you type using just one hand. This multi-lingual app offers over 75 free add-ons including numerous skins to choose from. Once you approve of its trial version, it is also available for purchase. However, the Rs. 308 seems a steep price for a keyboard app.
'SlideIt' across the screen
Be it swipe, tap, or voice input, getting accustomed to a keyboard is about personal preference and convenience. There are several other promising apps in this category on the Android Market like Go Keyboard, FlexT9 and Keyboard from Android 2.3. However, the default keyboard with Android 2.3 Gingerbread is quite spacious and easy to use. If you've got some other options, feel free to leave your suggestions for other readers via our comments section.