4 Best Free and Open Source Android Keyboards

James Frew 17-01-2018

Back in 2014, Apple “borrowed” one of Android’s greatest features: the ability to replace default system apps.


iOS 8 opened up the platform The 10 Best iPhone Keyboard Apps: Fancy Fonts, Themes, GIFs, and More Tired of the default iPhone keyboard? These alternative iPhone keyboard apps offer GIFs, themes, search, and more. Read More for keyboard developers, allowing users to have a choice of which keyboard they’d rather use. Of course, Android users have always been able to install their keyboard of choice What Is the Best Alternative Keyboard for Android? We take a look at some of the best keyboards in the Play Store and put them to the test. Read More , ranging from Swiftkey, to Swype, or even Minuum.

In late 2016, Google began including their own Gboard as the default keyboard 10 Things You Didn't Know Gboard for Android Could Do The best keyboard for Android is probably the one that comes pre-installed: Gboard. But are you taking full advantage of all its great features? Read More , incorporating many of your favorite features from other keyboard apps. While it may be one of the best Android keyboards, it also has the potential to track everything you type. Google already knows a lot about you How Much Does Google Really Know About You? Google is no champion of user privacy, but you might be surprised just how much they know. Read More .

If you’d rather not hand that kind of data over to Google — or any other third party — then you may want to give these open source Open Source vs. Free Software: What's the Difference and Why Does It Matter? Many assume "open source" and "free software" mean the same thing but that's not true. It's in your best interest to know what the differences are. Read More alternative keyboards a chance.

1. AnySoftKeyboard

People often assume that choosing an open source alternative means forgoing some of the best features from proprietary software.

AnySoftKeyboard proves that isn’t the case, as it is one of the most feature-packed alternative Android keyboards available. Alongside support for over 30 languages, AnySoftKeyboard includes all the predictive features you’d expect from a modern keyboard, as well as custom dictionaries and voice input.


best free open source android keyboards

There are multiple themes for you to make the keyboard your own, and almost every part of the interface is customizable.

AnySoftKeyboard does ask for the “Read Contacts” and “Read/Write to External Storage” permissions. They are used to personalize the keyboard but are not required for it to function. Unlike Gboard, there is no requirement for internet access, so your data will stay safely on your device.

Download: AnySoftKeyboard via F-Droid | Google Play


2. Hacker’s Keyboard

The last few years have seen the shift towards mobile become ever more present, with nearly all the apps and services we need in the palm of our hand.

However, most of us are still used to the layout of the traditional QWERTY keyboard, with all its modifier and function keys. Hacker’s Keyboard brings the familiar computer keyboard layout to your Android device, complete with multi-language layouts. There is even support for AnySoftKeyboard’s language packs for additional dictionaries.

best free open source android keyboards

Hacker’s Keyboard is based on the AOSP keyboard from Gingerbread (Android 2.3, released in 2010), so isn’t the most modern keyboard you’re likely to find. It is also infrequently updated, so the addition of new features is improbable. However, since Hacker’s Keyboard is open source, you could always fork the project Open Source Software and Forking: The Good, The Great and The Ugly Sometimes, the end-user benefits greatly from forks. Sometimes, the fork is done under a shroud of anger, hatred and animosity. Let's look at some examples. Read More and continue development yourself.


Download: Hacker’s Keyboard via F-Droid | Google Play

3. BeHe Keyboard

BeHe Keyboard also aims to bring the desktop keyboard experience to your Android device, but with a focus on programming.

Like Hacker’s Keyboard, BeHe features the QWERTY layout as standard, but also has two others: arrow keys and programming. The programming layout adds in keys for common characters you’d need when coding. This is particularly handy if you use apps to teach your kids how to code The 7 Best Coding Apps for Kids to Learn Programming Want to teach you kids how to code? Several programming tools are available. Here's our choice of the best coding apps for kids. Read More .

best free open source android keyboards


BeHe is a modern keyboard, with full Material design, and plenty of tweaks for you to customize the experience. There are multiple themes, including a dark theme to make the keyboard easier on your eyes. BeHe only requires one single permission: “control vibration.”

Download: BeHe Keyboard via F-Droid | Google Play

4. CompassKeyboard

CompassKeyboard takes a different approach to the on-screen keyboard. Instead of multiple pages for different key types, every key is available in a single layout. Gestures and swipes allow you to toggle between special and accented characters. For example, a swipe from the top-left to bottom-right of the keyboard lets you change layouts between Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic. The app’s total size is only 242KB — great for saving on precious storage space Save on Storage Space With These 7 Lite Android Apps If you have an older device or just a cheap Android phone, these apps will be much better for you than their mainstream counterparts. Read More .

best free open source android keyboards

The experience of using CompassKeyboard is quite different and takes some getting used to. However, its unique layout makes it easier for you to access special characters — particularly useful if you frequently type in multiple languages. Currently, the Google Play listing is at version 1.5, last updated in 2013. However, the F-Droid listing was updated in 2016 to version 1.6.

Download: CompassKeyboard via F-Droid | Google Play

Which Will You Choose?

Customization has always been at the heart of what makes Android such a compelling operating system. By allowing developers to integrate their apps directly into the operating system, you have more control over how it operates — and what happens to your data.

Whether Android is truly an open source operating system Is Android Really Open Source? And Does It Even Matter? Here we explore whether or not Android is really open source. After all, it is based on Linux! Read More is hotly contested. However, its strength is the open source community who have developed a wide range of interesting and useful apps 12 Best Free and Open Source Android Apps Are you an open source enthusiast? Then you'll love these apps for your Android phone or tablet. Read More .

What do you make of these open source Android keyboards? Does Google’s data collection worry you? Are there any you think we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Android, Keyboard.

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  1. Stewart Daniels
    October 15, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    @James Frew

    As a tinfoil hat wearer, I found this article absolutely delightful. I went with the Anysoftkeyboard.

    After installing, I found zero traces of any of the apps background services commited to 'Phoning Home' in any obvious capacity.

    After the privacy nightmares of Gboard, Swiftkey and the like, I resolved to letting HTC record my keystrokes as the stock app. No more, the HTC keyboard is now disarmed (Through Root) and replaced.

    Thank You! thank You! Thank you!

    • James Frew
      October 16, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Thanks for the feedback, Stewart! Im glad you found the roundup helpful. I was going through exactly the same issue which is what inspired this article. Let us know how you find AnySoftKeyboard!

  2. Seppo
    April 2, 2018 at 8:19 am

    If typing speed is not the problem, but hitting and seeing the tiny buttons, you could try ComboKey Plus (free) on Google Play. One hand typing is also possible: hold the phone and type with your same left or right hand.

    • James Frew
      April 2, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      I see that you are the developer of that keyboard. Thanks for including it in the comments here. As far as I can see though, your ComboKey Plus isn't Open Source and hence why it wouldn't have been eligable for this list. All the best with your further development.