The best keyboards for Android

The best Android keyboards will have you texting faster than a 13-year-old

Gboard
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Sometimes the keyboard app that comes with your phone just doesn’t cut it. Luckily, there are thousands of alternatives to choose from on the Google Play Store, with fun themes, support for other languages, and cool features like stickers, emojis, predictive text writing, and more. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks of keyloggers and other malware when using a third-party keyboard.

That is where we come in. We’ve gone ahead and done the research for you to find the best keyboards for Android that not only offer excellent features and look great, but have a strong history of user security and robust privacy policies so you can rest easy when typing away. If you decide to go with a lesser-known or new keyboard app, we also included precautions for you to consider to protect your information — not just for keyboard apps, but any apps from the Google Play Store and beyond.

Best keyboard apps

Gboard (free)

Gboard keyboard

It’s not the flashiest of the bunch, but if you want top-notch Android and Google integration, as well as an assurance of privacy, you can’t go wrong with Google’s own lightweight keyboard app. Depending on your device, this may be the stock keyboard already. The keyboard offers tons of language support, and if you’re running Android 4.4 or later, you also get built-in emoji support for hundreds of useful symbols and emoticons. You can swipe around the keyboard to type, but the main draw is the ability to ask Google anything without having to leave a conversation — just tap the Google icon to search the web. There are plenty of customization options, such as adding a number row, and other extra features like a one-handed mode and voice input. Since it is developed by Google, you know there is no need to worry about malware, adware, or any nasty stuff on this app. Your personal dictionary is tied to your Google account, so you can have it ready for whatever device you install Gboard on.

Google Play

SwiftKey (free)

SwiftKey keyboard

SwiftKey comes highly rated on the Google Play Store, and its legions of faithful fans will boast of its high accuracy rates and predictive capabilities, which extend to the slang and emojis you use. It gets better as it learns about the way you write, plus it also lets you switch effortlessly between languages mid-sentence, which is great for bilingual folks. SwiftKey has a robust privacy policy that carefully differentiates between data to help the keyboard learn your typing habits while protecting sensitive details like login information and credit cards. It leaves control of that data in your hands, allowing you to easily opt into cloud services or remove your info. It also offers tons of themes, GIFs, emoji, and customization options.

Google Play

Multiling O Keyboard (free)

Multiling O keyboard

This keyboard is a must-have for our international readers who find it difficult to get third-party keyboards that support their native language. The Multiling O Keyboard supports more than 200 languages. It allows you to choose the layout and look of the keyboard. It also supports swiping and emojis. It offers four- and five-row layouts, and you can also switch between QWERTY, DVORAK, AZERTY, or even design your own layout. It doesn’t match the predictive qualities of other keyboards, but for multilingual support and customization options, it’s tough to beat.

Google Play

Fleksy (free)

Fleksy keyboard

The Fleksy keyboard was used to set the world record for fastest texting twice, so if snappy response times and customization for speed are your thing, this is the keyboard for you. It’s also free and it doesn’t come with any annoying adware. Rather than swiping or drawing the letters, you will tap just like you used to and use gestures to delete words or select autocorrect options. You can shrink or grow the keyboard based on your needs, as well as change the colors and layout. Fleksy’s privacy policy is sturdy, too, and clearly outlines what information the keyboard is able to see. It even allows you to opt out of any programs that you find uncomfortable.

Google Play

TouchPal (free)

TouchPal keyboard

TouchPal also been around for nearly 10 years and its status as a long-standing app speaks to a robust security and privacy policy. The free app also features voice recognition, emojis, stickers, one-touch writing, and other nifty tricks. It handles add-ons through an internal store, which also includes a miniature app store for advertising purposes. It even has its own artificially intelligent assistant. You do need to watch out, though, as the app is riddled with some full-screen ads if you don’t pony up for an annual subscription ($5). At least it doesn’t feature any adware or other apps that will take over your device.

Google Play

Minuum ($4)

Minuum keyboard

The biggest feature of Minuum is its focus on being small. The Minuum keyboard is condensed down to rely more heavily on autocorrect to figure out what word you are typing. It’s especially helpful if you own small devices with a 4-inch or smaller screen. Whenever screen real estate is especially valuable, this is the keyboard you need. You can adjust the size of the keyboard, condensing the extra rows of letters into small sections, similar to the way numeric keyboards put multiple letters on each key. The interface is so efficient, it even works on smartwatches. It also supports a few different languages, gesture shortcuts, and more than 800 emoticons. Minuum has a comprehensive privacy policy that lets you contribute usage data anonymously or keep it all to yourself.

Google Play

Security concerns

Some keyboard apps pose security threats to your device, so be wary of which ones you download. One of the easiest ways to avoid any malware is to stick to the Google Play Store.

With keyboards, an easy way to tell whether the app might be up to no good is to see if it asks for network connectivity. Unless you specifically set up a service like SwiftKey’s cloud-based backup, or your free keyboard uses banner ads instead of costing you money, a keyboard shouldn’t need to connect to the internet for any reason. This is a red flag that it’s trying to send your info to a server remotely.

There is also more to worry about than security and privacy concerns. Many popular keyboard apps (such as Flash Keyboard) install adware and very annoying third-party applications alongside your keyboard app experience. This is often the case for free keyboard apps. If you aren’t careful when you install and set everything up, you may end up with an annoying new lock screen or ads in your notification bar.

Looking for more apps for your Android phone? Check out our list of the very best apps on Android. If that discussion on staying safe piqued your curiosity about Android security, our guides on the best Android security apps and the best Android VPNs should be right up your alley.

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