Mike's NBC-TV stories

Replace Your Smartphone’s Boring Default Keyboard with These Apps

Sometimes that boring, old default keyboard that came with your smartphone or tablet just won’t cut it – you misspell too many words, want to type faster, or need more emoticons. A growing number of third-party keyboards are available for devices running Android and since late in 2014, for iOS 8.

SwiftKey has been popular for Android for a few years and became available for iOS last September. The company behind the app says the best feature of SwiftKey is that it can learn what – and how – users use words on their devices. This allows for SwiftKey to predict what’s going to be typed. Users can also customize layouts, use SwiftKey’s swipe-typing feature, and chose from more than 800 emoji/emoticon characters. The basic app is free and the option to purchase additional features and themes is available.

Swype bills itself as the original app for swipe-typing, which is when you slide your finger around a keyboard instead of clicking away on digital keys. Users get five themes to pick from and Swype supports several languages, including English and Spanish. Swype, too, learns how you type and attempt to predict what you are going to say in the name of saving time. Swype is available for 99 cents for Android and iOS with additional in-app purchases, such as more themes.

If speed is most important to you, consider Fleksy – the keyboard used to set the record for fastest texting last year, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Fleksy supports a ton of languages and comes with several themes that can be tailored to your own style. The size of the on-screen keyboard can be changed, too. Fleksy is for Android or iOS and costs 99 cents.

Check out the video below for the PC Mike’s NBC-TV report on making your onscreen keyboard better:

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.