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Typing on smartphones has largely remained the same since their introduction. You poke at the slab of glass to text a friend, look up an address, or enter text anywhere else on your phone.
But you’d surprised to know there several additional fun and interesting methods for text input on your phone. Here are the six major ways you can type on Android.
1. Standard Typing
We begin with standard typing. Every Android phone ships with a default virtual keyboard that offers a QWERTY layout you’re probably familiar with. You can tap the individual keys to compose text, and don’t need to worry about any setup process.
However, you can replace this stock keyboard with other third-party options available in the Play Store. You can configure a different virtual keyboard depending on what you’re looking for. There are all sorts of options—whether you want more customization, better accuracy, or a more reliable cross-platform backup feature.
While Google’s Gboard gets the job done well, SwiftKey is one of our favorite alternative Android keyboards. It offers powerful predictions, tons of customization options, and support for typing in multiple languages.
Download: SwiftKey (Free)
2. Gesture Typing
If you feel regular typing is too sluggish, try adopting gestures. Nearly all virtual keyboards today let you write by gliding your finger across the keys. Instead of tapping each key individually, with gesture typing, you can simply swipe to type without even lifting your finger.
In addition, a few apps also allow typing entire sentences with this method. All you need to do is visit the space bar when you’d like to move to another word and the virtual keyboard will add a space in between words. Again, SwiftKey is the best option here for accuracy and responsiveness.
Along with saving time, gesture typing also takes a lot less effort. Once you get used to it, there’s no going back. If you’re struggle to type quickly even after switching to swipe typing, check out these tips to type faster on an Android phone.
3. External Keyboards
Many people rely on their phone for getting real work done. If you’ve ever done so on a smartphone, you know virtual keyboards are not up to the task. In such scenarios, you need a better option. Luckily, Android lets you connect an external, full-fledged keyboard.
You have two ways to connect these. If they’re wireless, you can simply pair them over Bluetooth and should be all set without any further tweaking.
For USB wired keyboards, you’ll need a special dongle to use USB OTG (On-The-Go). This enables you to connect a full-size USB-A connector to your phone’s micro-USB or USB-C port. Since Android natively supports these keyboards, you don’t need to modify any settings to start using it.
What’s more, some keyboard manufacturers now offer boards designed for phones that include dedicated keys for navigating around a mobile OS. Logitech’s K series, like the K480, is a prime example of this.
Check out our complete guide to using a USB keyboard on Android for help.
4. Morse Code
If you’re in search of a little typing challenge, Android has you covered. Google’s Gboard comes with the ability to interpret Morse code so that you can type in the language of dots and dashes. You’ll have to know Morse code already, as this feature isn’t made for learning. Rather, it’s for disabled users who rely on Morse code for typing.
To switch to Morse code on Gboard, head to Settings > Languages & input. Select Virtual keyboard, then Gboard. Choose Languages, tap your current language, and slide through the list until you see Morse code. Select this and review the below options if you like. Hit Done and you’re ready.
At a text field where you want to write in Morse code, make sure you’re using Gboard. If you are, keep tapping the Globe icon until you reach Morse code. You can now enter text using dots and dashes.
5. Voice Typing
There’s a lot you can do with just your voice on Android. Voice input for typing is arguably the most convenient way to type on a smartphone, as long as you’re not in a public or noisy place. The button for dictating some text is situated at the top or bottom row on nearly every keyboard. You can tap it to begin speaking.
The engine will automatically figure out the spaces. However, you’ll need to tell it to insert punctuation marks. For instance, to type How are you?, you will have to say “How are you question mark.”
The keyboard will continue to transcribe what you speak until you pause for a couple of seconds or press the back key. Find the option to change the input language inside the settings icon on the left of the dictation screen.
You can even type with your own handwriting on Android, thanks to Gboard. To enable the mode, you will have to follow the same process as for Morse code above. Navigate to Settings > Languages & input > Virtual keyboard > Gboard. Then tap Languages, pick your current language, and slide through the list until you see Handwriting.
To use this method of input, select Gboard and tap the Globe icon until you reach Handwriting. On the panel, you can either write individual characters or draw the entire word. Plus, the feature also supports cursive if you’d like to use that.
Switch to an Open-Source Android Keyboard App
While typing on virtual keyboards like SwiftKey or Gboard, there’s always a chance of your data being at risk. Therefore, we would suggest switching to an open-source alternative. We have compiled a list of the best open-source virtual keyboards for Android if you’d like to make the jump.