One of my favorite, must have apps is Swiftkey.

SwiftKey is the great keyboard app for Android that offers excellent predictive text and voice input. SwiftKey’s had a lot of improvements over its short lifespan.

Now though, Google’s entering the competition.

Today, Google released its own keyboard app called Google Keyboard (free). Google Keyboard is the Android 4.2 version, which is now available for all users.

Both keyboards are similar, with a few key UI differences.

First, I prefer the SwiftKey layout over Google’s, especially when it comes to accessing numbers and special symbols. Unfortunately, Google Keyboard doesn’t place the common characters on the QWERTY keys like SwiftKey. I really miss that.

Google Keyboard Layout

Yes, I know, they’re tucked down in the lower right hand corner above the period, but that’s a lot of work to get the @ symbol. Why doesn’t Google think symbols and numbers are that important?

Both apps feature swipe, which allows you to draw your words on the keyboard.

Google Keyboard Swipe

I’m not a big fan of swipe on either app, since my fingers tend to miss the letters and the swipe predictions aren’t that great. I’m sure with a lot of practice I’d improve my efficiency.

Overall, I still like SwiftKey over Google Keyboard only because of the numbers and symbols layout. For the price, free, Google Keyboard will probably sway a lot of users. If you’re a long-time SwiftKey users, you’ll probably continue to use the SwiftKey app.

I give Google Keyboard 4 of 5 stars.

Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.


Patrick H. Stiehm · June 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Surprisingly,Google Keyboard is not universally compatible with all Android devices. I discovered this when attempting to load it on my Huawei U8650-1. Although this is not the first time I have come across an app that was not compatible with my device, I am somewhat surprised that a Google app is not usable universally, across the Android spectrum. Maybe I’m naïve, but I would assume, given the ubiquity of Google in this arena, that they would make sure that their apps are usable across the board.

    Jeffrey Taylor · June 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I think one of the main issues is the manufacturer and some of the lockdown provision in the device itself, and not so much Google.

Harold Goldner · June 7, 2013 at 10:59 am

One glaring inadequacy of Swiftkey is the ability to directly edit the dictionary. As such, as reported elsewhere in the Android RSS world today, you CAN directly edit the Google dictionary, and thereby create the sort of “shortcuts” we used to do all the time in Palm OS (and apparently already on iphones). I’ve been a longtime Swiftkey user but I’m taking a look at this keyboard now to see whether adding back in my old shortcuts saves more time than Swiftkey’s methodology.

    Steve · June 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I’ve found that manually typing (not swiping) adds that new word to my Swiftkey dictionary automatically from that point on.

      Jeffrey Taylor · June 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      That’s one feature I prefer over Google’s. I have to tell Google the words to add, SwiftKey seems more intuitive, especially if you’re using the word a lot.

    krushna chandra · November 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Now you can edit as well the new feature is already available and you can directly edit the dictionary

      Prince Bansal · January 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      it’s not available to add word to dictionary directly. we have to clock the word with three dots above in the bar and then touch to save. In reference to this feature i prefer swype.

Jim · June 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I really like google keyboard. I have used SwiftKey for years, this one doesn’t have skins but is fast, accurate and sleek. Very good keyboard.

    Jeffrey Taylor · June 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Jim, thanks. I tend to agree. I didn’t start by liking the app, but I’m moving closer to it. I’m still not liking that Google Keyboard doesn’t display symbols using a long-press on the keyboard.

      Moses Krehbiel · June 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      If you hold the period button down (on Google keyboard) it gives you some of the more common symbols. (I found this by accident)

        Jeffrey Taylor · June 28, 2013 at 10:21 pm

        Yes. The difference is that SWiftKey has the common symbols interspaced through all of the keys. If you want @, you’d press “S”, and so forth. I hate having to multi-click to get those common symbols.

RyanK · August 2, 2013 at 11:25 am

If you like to swipe, the Google one is much, much better.

Jeffrey Taylor · August 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I’m actually really loving Google Keyboard’s swipe. I think I use swipe to text for about 75% of my compositions. I find that recognition is slightly better, and I love the flow, which seems more smooth.

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