Google Keyboard for Android: autocorrection, word prediction, gesture and voice input– for free

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As an ex iOS user, one of the reasons that I like Android so much is the flexibility to customize so many aspects of it, such as the interface itself and the keyboard used for text input.

We’ve previously mentioned a couple of cool keyboard replacements for Android. This time around, it’s Google Keyboard, a competent keyboard that is a workhorse rather than a showhorse. It incorporates many of the innovations that we’ve seen in custom keyboards (gesture and voice typing, word prediction, autocorrection) into a single, FREE app.

Google Keyboard Screenshot1 - gesture typingGoogle Keyboard Screenshot2 - audio input

I’m a big fan of text input with via gesture swiping, and honestly cannot think of going back to click-clicking each key individually on an on screen keyboard. As far as I am concerned, gesture swiping should become a standard feature on all touchscreen devices, as should both autocorrection and word prediction.

So how does Google Keyboard perform? Very well indeed. Aside from those features mentioned above (autocorrection, word prediction, gesture and voice typing); features on offer include: support for multiple languages/dictionaries, personal dictionary support, and even text expansion, where you can enter an abbreviation/shortcut and get a predefined word as one of the word prediction options (e.g. type ‘fwg’ and ‘freewaregenius’ can come up as an option, which you can set up as you please). This last one very useful for frequently typed emails.

The Verdict (a.k.a Should you install Google Keyboard?)

It depends. A lot of it’s features may already be supported by your current keyboard. Most phones have custom keyboards, so check to see what yours has on offer. Most recent Samsung phones, for example, already feature prediction and gesture input (although you have to enable it in the settings). So if that’s what you want, you may already have it.

However, the one thing that is truly impressive is voice input (launched right from the keyboard screen), which not only offers remarkable voice recognition, but is available for most every language on Earth. It’s not something that I previously knew I wanted, but after testing it, I know for a fact that I will probably be using it.

Google Keyboard ventures into territory that has hithterto been the mainstay of paid apps such as  Swiftkey or Swype, (not free), and Kii Keyboard or TouchPal Keyboard (free, or offer free versions). I will admit that I feel sorry for these guys, because now that Google has entered the field they are probably all in danger. As a free app which is both competent and feature rich, Google Keyboard is a great way to get gesture typing on your phone if you want it (or want to try it). With competent voice recognition to boot, it may change the way you ‘type’ with your phone.

However, this article is not a comparison between Google Keyboard and, say, Swiftkey or Swype etc. Are there features that these apps provide that Google Keyboard does not? Please let us know in the comment section below.

Go to the Google Keyboard Page on Google Play to get it. Note that Google Keyboard is not available in all countries as we write this. If this is the case in your country, check out our guide to accessing the US app market from anywhere (be mindful of step #5).


 
 
 
  • mike

    i’m keeping kii simply for the arrow keys at the bottom and dedicated number row at the top. i loved touchpal’s swiping the top row for numbers but their support for languages is abysmal.

    • Most keyboards, including Google’s, have numbers along the top row as alternate inputs so they don’t take up extra screen space. As to the arrow keys in Kii Keyboard you can call them up at any time by holding down the bottom left key and selecting them so again you don’t need to have them on screen all the time.

  • Farrukh

    And I still like Multilingual keyboard due to arrow keys, num pads and other symbol pads + support of different languages including Urdu

  • ClaussenDB

    I got this keyboard app right after I saw it was available. It is truly amazing. Not only does the “type a word by running your finger over all of the letters in the word” make things easy, it is extremely accurate. Give this app a try at least.

    • Cerberus_tm

      I hear most people say Swype is still better at text prediction. It is the mother of all swiping keyboards.

  • bruno pagis

    I’ve been using Kii Keyboard on my Android devices for some time. I wanted to give Google Keyboard a try. Unfortunately, I could install it on my Nexus 7, but not on my Wiko Android Jelly Been smartphone. Strangely enough, the reason is that this app is not available in my country (France) for my phone; but no such issue for my Nexus 7.
    I wish one day those country specific limitations would stop. In the mean time, i’ll have to find a way to bypass this limitation and install it.

  • Wim de Lange

    Not available for the Netherlands and Belgium. I could use the guide, but on the other hand, it looks like the keyboard used on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Can someone confirmt this?
    Is Dutch in the language list? If so, it is rather stupid.

    • Cerberus_tm

      Yes, you can use it with Dutch. I was able to install it on my Galaxy Nexus without a problem. However, Swiftkey performs better in Dutch, and Swype performs the best. Here an example of each, trying to swipe the sentence “Nu ga ik nog eens even Swype proberen, kijken hoe goed het werkt met één duim, zonder te corrigeren.”. I have tried to be equally “sloppy” with each keyboard, i.e. I used it as I normally would, but without correcting anything. It should also be noted that I have used Swype for a long time, so it has probably learned more about my general typing behaviour and custom words, although the latter doesn’t seem to be an issue here:

      Nu ga ik nog eens even Swype proberen, kijken hoe goed het werkt met een duim, zondert te corrigeren.
      Nu ga ik nog eens even Swype proberen, kijken hoe goed het werkt met een duim, zondert te corrigeren.

      Nu ga ik nog eens even surgery kroegen, kunnen hoe goed het werkt met een duim, zonet te corrigeren.
      Nu ga ik nog eens even SwiftKey profeten, kunnen hoe voeg het werkt met een duim, zonder te chirurgen.

      Nu ga ik nog eens even google keyboard proberen, kijken hit goed het wekt met en dik, zonder te corrigeren.
      Nu ga ik nog eens even hofje keyboard proberen, kunnen hoe goed het werkte met en dun, zonder te corrigeren.

      • Wim de Lange

        Ok, but I cannot download it due to country problems and for a reason not clear to me the procedure available did not work.

        • Cerberus_tm

          Just use Swype!

    • Moreno Forlani

      in galaxy s4 there’s gesture and word prediction/correction

  • I tried Google Keyboard and I find it just takes up to much screen space. I paid for Swiftkey years ago so switch between that and Kii Keyboard which, despite what the article says, is free.

  • Phil

    Unfortunately the Google Play won’t let me install because the app isn’t compatible with my phone (Xperia mini pro).