On a tablet, other than the screen, the next most used item is the keyboard. In most Android tablet that I have come across, the default keyboard is always badly done, and while it is usable, it is always not a good tool for improving productivity. Unlike iPad where you don’t have a choice of the keyboard, there are tons of keyboard apps in the market that you can install and use it, either for free or for a price. Below, let’s take a look at some of the free and popular keyboard for Android Tablet.
1. Hacker Keyboard
Hacker Keyboard is my personal favorite because it completely mimics the physical keyboard so you don’t have to learn a new keyboard layout and get confuse over the position of each character.
Hacker Keyboard uses a qwerty layout and comes with Ctrl, Tab, Alt, Esc and even the Fn button. This is particularly useful if you are using the Connectbot or Terminal emulator for SSH access. What I love most is the up/down/left/right arrow keys. I have switched to other keyboard, and come back to this mainly for this feature alone.
One thing it doesn’t come with is the auto-correct feature. If you rely a lot on this feature, then this keyboard is not for you.
Hacker Keyboard (Market link)
Instead of typing individual character on the keyboard, Swype allows you to form words by swiping your fingers across the keyboard. It is fast, intuitive and accurate. For those who love to type faster with just one finger, Swype is the one for you.
Swype for the tablet comes in two different mode: the full width mode and a compact mode. The full width mode is more suitable for two hands typing while the compact mode is more suitable for swiping. A good thing about the compact mode is that you can move it left, center, right or any where along the bottom to suit your swiping style.
Swype is good for quick typing, but if your work require you to use plenty of special characters, Swype might be too troublesome for you as all the special characters are not easily accessible.
Swype is not available in the Android market. To get it, go to Swype website and download the installer.
3. GO Keyboard
The GO Dev team has to be the most prolific and popular dev team in the Android community, having released the popular GO Launcher and many other useful GO apps. The GO Keyboard is another of their great product.
The GO Keyboard is a hybrid of Swype and Hacker Keyboard. You can swipe to form word, or type one character at a time. It also comes with auto-correction, text prediction and support for multiple languages (dictionary has to be separately downloaded).
The layout of the keyboard can be configured for both a phone and a tablet (known as Pad mode in the Settings). For the tablet, you can select either a basic layout or a split layout.
GO Keyboard is not all about functionality. It also has one of the biggest themes library in the market. Just search “GO Keyboard Themes” in the market and you can find almost all sort of themes and design that you can use. If that is not enough, you can even set your own keyboard background and transparency.
Go Keyboard (market link)
4. MultiLing Keyboard
MultiLing keyboard is particularly useful for those whose native language is not English. This keyboard allows you to switch keyboard language with a quick swipe on the space key.
MultiLing Keyboard supports a lot of languages, but they are not installed by default. Once you have installed the main keyboard app, you have to go to the Market and download the plug-in for the language you want.
Another thing about MultiLing Keyboard is that it supports gestures. You can swipe down (across the keyboard) to hide the keyboard, swipe right to change the mode to number layout, swipe diagonally to left bottom to clear the suggestions and so on. Best of all, you can configure the gestures and its respective actions.
One other thing that I like is the Autotext plugin for MultiLing Keyboard. Once installed, you can create your own shorthand and have it expands to the long text when the keyword is typed. For example, I can type “bb” and it will expand to “be right back”.
In short, if you need access to a whole wide range of languages, plenty of configuration options, and customization ability, MultiLing keyboard is the one for you.
MultiLing Keyboard (market link)
One thing for sure, the above list is not conclusive. Do let us know which keyboard you are using and why it is good for you.
Image credit: BigStockPhoto
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