The best keyboards for Android that will help you type efficiently in 2018

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

Best keyboards for Android - SwiftKey themes

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, new features, and support for other languages. It’s also important to know the risks of keyloggers and other malware when using a third-party input device, which is why Apple resisted third-party keyboard support for such a long time. Still, these days a third-party keyboard feels like a necessity for staying up-to-date on the latest features, including stickers, emojis, predictive text writing, and more.

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 great 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) — Best Google integration

Gboard
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s not the flashiest of the bunch, but if you want top-notch Android and Google integration, and an assurance of privacy, you can’t go wrong with Google’s own lightweight keyboard. 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.

Download now from:

Google Play

SwiftKey (free) — Most accurate

SwiftKey best keyboards for Android
SwiftKey comes highly rated on the Google Play Store, and its legions of faithful fans will boast of its high accuracy rates and predictive emoji. 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 data 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 and other features.

Download now from:

Google Play

ai.type keyboard ($4) — Most adaptive

Like many other top keyboards, the ai.type keyboard boasts next-word prediction and completion, autocorrection, and auto-suggested emojis. You can also personalize it with colors, fonts, and backgrounds, and you can edit the keyboard’s layout. It adapts to your writing style as it learns from the way you type. It supports many languages and sports a very handy top row that you can use to type numbers, emojis, or punctuation without having to switch from the primary keyboard screen. If you’re hesitant to drop $4 on a keyboard, then you can also try out the free version and see whether it’s worth the cash.

Download now from:

Google Play

Multiling O Keyboard (free) — Best for foreign languages

This keyboard is a must-have for our international readers who find it difficult to get third-party keyboards that support their native language. Multiling O Keyboard supports more than 200 languages. It allows you to choose the layout and look of the keyboard. It also supports swipe and emojis. It offers four- and five-row layouts, and you can also switch between QWERTY, DVORAK, AZERTY, or even design your own layout.

Download now from:

Google Play

Fleksy (free) — Quickest

Fleksy Keyboard best keyboards for Android
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.

Download now from:

Google Play

TouchPal (free) — Most secure

TouchPal best keyboards for Android
TouchPal has also been around for nearly 10 years and its status as a long-standing app ensures 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.

Download now from:

Google Play

Minuum ($4) — Most compact

Minuum best keyboards for Android

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. Minuum has a comprehensive privacy policy that lets you contribute usage data anonymously or keep it all to yourself.

Download now from:

Google Play

Microsoft Keyboard for Excel (free) — Best for Excel

best keyboards for Android Excel

Here is something a little more niche. Eschewing the current trend for flashy additions, Microsoft’s Keyboard for Excel is just that — a keyboard that is focused on making Excel usage on phones that much easier. Optimized for number entry, and lacking in features like autocorrect and gestures, the description admits that this is an experimental keyboard, created by Microsoft’s experimental Garage division. It’s definitely not something you’re likely to stick with if you don’t do a lot of number work — but if you do, this might be the keyboard you install.

Download now from:

Google Play

Chrooma Keyboard (free) — Most straightforward

Chrooma Keyboard best keyboards for Android
Looking for a free, lightweight, easy-to-use keyboard with one-touch typing? Chrooma Keyboard has you covered. It’s a straightforward, simple, fast keyboard with a colorful twist. No matter the app you’re typing in, Chrooma matches it in a cool, Google-esque aesthetic, ensuring a stylish way to type. It’s also got a built-in GIF keyboard, multilingual support, and a one-handed mode.

Download now from:

Google Play

Hacker’s Keyboard (free) — Best for Linux

Hacker's Keyboard best keyboards for Android
Ever tried remotely accessing a computer or Linux terminal from your Android device? You might notice how much trouble it is to try and enter commands such as Ctrl-Alt-Delete without all the different keys on a typical PC keyboard. Despite the menacing name, Hacker’s Keyboard gives you an easy way to enter all those complicated commands from your Android device by emulating the same keyboard you have on your desktop. It’s especially useful when trying to use Alt, arrow keys, or function keys you would otherwise not have access to, and it’s a must-have for anyone using TeamViewer or a terminal emulator.

Download now from:

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. Sideloading apps you get elsewhere can be great for enabling functionality you might not find elsewhere, but these programs aren’t checked by Google for malware or viruses. If you aren’t completely sure of an app’s origins, giving it permission to access your device is a huge mistake. And if you’ve accidentally downloaded malware, check out our guide to removing malware on Android.

On the Google Play Store, you can also see how many times an app has been downloaded, as well as the reviews that other users have given it. An app with millions of downloads and good reviews is most likely safe, especially if it’s been in the app store for a while, but an app with only a few thousand downloads and mostly negative reviews should be carefully investigated.

Apps installed from Google Play require authorization to access some or all of your data. This step is an easy way to identify which apps might take more than they want you to believe. While it’s pretty standard for a messaging app to need access to your SMS capabilities and contact book, that flashlight app probably doesn’t need that same information, and will almost certainly use it for advertising or other shady business.

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 the user 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 aside from security and privacy concerns. Many of your favorite 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 and requires careful reading when you install and set everything up, otherwise, you will have an annoying new lock screen or ads in your notification bar to deal with.

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