One of the major benefits of owning an Android smartphone or tablet is the ability to install a custom software keyboard on the device. While the stock phone keyboards can oftentimes be really good, there are lots of features available through custom software keyboards — features that range from the ability to swipe words instead of type to those with large buttons to those that learn your typing styles more efficiently — that make the device easier to use for you as an individual based on your preferences.
If you have never installed a custom software keyboard on an Android device before, don’t fret. The process is very easy. Here’s how to do it.
You can do this by conducting a quick search in the Google Play store for “Keyboard”. Once you do that, you’ll see a number of results pop up — including options that will cost you money — that you can try.
The nice thing about these keyboards is they are easy to install so you can try many before you stick with one. This is especially important with the keyboards that have a paid option. Always try the free version before paying to make sure the keyboard will fit your typing style.
When looking through the search results, be sure to read reviews, app descriptions and — perhaps most importantly — look at the screenshots to see if the app looks like something that will work for you.
For each keyboard you want to give a test drive to, you’ll need to download the keyboard, and grant it the permissions it will need to run. Because the keyboard will interact with virtually every aspect of your phone, the permissions list is relatively extensive, so if you are the kind of person who likes to know exactly what you are granting an app access to, it would behoove you to study the list — especially if you are planning to install a keyboard that is relatively new on the market or has no reviews — for the most part though, most of the keyboards that you’ll find with thousands of reviews are tried and tested and safe to install.
3) Follow app’s instructions to set it as the default keyboard.
Just because you downloaded and installed a keyboard does not mean that the keyboard is now active on your device. You need to enable the keyboard as an input device and set it as your active keyboard.
For TouchPal X, which I’m installing in this demonstration, I was sent to my phone’s “Language & Keyboard” menu and had to switch off my existing keyboard and switch on the TouchPal X keyboard. I then hit the back arrow on my phone, and tap “Set as active keyboard” which brings up a radio button menu where I simply select the new keyboard by tapping once.
TouchPal X and other keyboards then may have custom options for users to enable. In TouchPal X’s case, I was able to sign in with Google to the app’s cloud service, which updates dictionaries with trending words, syncs my dictionaries, and more.
4) Learn to use the new keyboard.
At this point, your keyboard is installed and you can begin using it. Many keyboard apps come with a brief tutorial to help users get up to speed on the special features that differentiate their software over others. If you are used to using a stock keyboard, it will usually take you a little time to become accustomed to the new input methodologies of your new keyboard, but hopefully, once you’ve found a keyboard that fits your style, you will be swyping and typing like a pro.