Downloadable smartphone keyboards have been on the market for many years. But the ones available now are very different from those of even five years ago. They can be more efficient, smarter, and enjoyable that your phone’s stock keyboard. Here’s a look at some powerful options that provide easy access to features like GIFs, fonts, languages and more.
SwiftKey sounds like you
One of the first and most popular alternative keyboards is Microsoft’s free SwiftKey (Android, iOS), which has a variety of features that allow you to both customize your input and type with speed and accuracy.
Features include swipe-based typing, support for more than 400 languages, autocorrect, spellcheck, predictive text, word predictions, and a bunch of customization options.
SwiftKey’s biggest claim to fame is the use of artificial intelligence to learn your writing style. It gets smarter and more you-like over time. If you’re new to alternative keyboards, this is a great place to start.
Grammarly makes you sound smarter
It’s undeniably helpful when editing and proofreading texts, reassuring you that they’re devoid of errors. It also suggests synonyms, corrects punctuation mistakes, and offers explanations for the changes it suggests.
There’s a free version available, so start with that one first. If you’re a Grammarly Premium subscriber—starting at $12 a month—you get deeper vocabulary features, clarity and tone suggestions, and a handful of other goodies to make you sound even smarter.
Gboard translates on the fly
As keyboards go, it’s pretty solid in general, but one of the most impressive features is the ability to type in one language and have it translated to one of hundreds of other languages in real time.
To do so, simply make sure that you’re using Gboard as your main keyboard and then tap the keyboard’s menu button—the three little dots in the top row—and select the Translate feature from the menu that comes up. There are more detailed instructions here if you get stuck.
Like its name might imply, Fonts lets you type in all sorts of different fonts and is compatible with just about any app you’d use to input text. There are more than 100 typefaces available, plus a huge array of emojis, kaomojis, stickers, and symbols to play around with.
This keyboard’s basic version is free to use. Premium versions, starting at $3, unlock larger collections.