Compared to the early days of Android and iOS, it's amazing how good virtual keyboards have become... but that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement. Long email and street addresses in particular are a pain to type in, especially outside of the browser where saved user information isn't available. If you're tired of typing out your thirty-character company email address, Texpand can help: it allows you to create customized shortcodes for longer strings of text and use them in any text field.
Human capacity for speech seems infinite, but after writing a steady stream of text messages, emails, and posts over the years, things start to get repetitive. PhraseExpress has spared Windows users sentences, paragraphs, and pages worth of mundane conversation since its release, and now the software is ready to do the same for Android.
The Autotext PhraseExpress Android app has the ability to save any number of text snippets (though the free version is limited to 25), organizing them into a folder hierarchy similar to bookmarks.
A mobile keyboard is only as good as the number of languages it supports. Keyword: supports. The keys we press on our keyboards may seem pretty simple to get right, but sometimes manufacturers don't ship devices with everything functioning and available out of the box, including entire languages. In those cases, the sooner an update arrives, the better. So HTC is making over 40 Sense Input languages available on Google Play, speeding up and simplifying the way it can push out future updates and language packs.
Using a virtual keyboard may not feel as natural as a physical one, but it's only the worst way to input text with a touchscreen except for all of the other ones. Swype has had the most success in revolutionizing how we enter text, as all of the major Android keyboards have since introduced gesture-based typing in subsequent upgrades, but it's far from perfect. That brings us to FlickKey Keyboard. It's a sliding keyboard that, by grouping letters into square groups of nine, aims to reduce how far across the screen our fingers need to slide.
Most current smartwatches, such as the Pebble and the Galaxy Gear, serve as notification hubs for whatever smartphone is paired to them, but this limitation is something several Kickstarter projects have sought to change by effectively turning smartwatches into phones themselves. This approach doesn't address how ludicrous it is to peck out words on such a tiny screen, but Minuum, the Android keyboard that fits the entire alphabet into a single row, could just be the ideal solution.
Swype pioneered the use of gestures to enter words into our mobile devices, a feature that competitors have since picked up, including the keyboard that now ships pre-installed on Google's Nexus devices. Yet while Swype remains a champ at forming words out of our illegible squiggles, it hasn't been the fastest option for manually typing out words the old fashioned way. Now the app has received an update that the team promises significantly improves tap input.
Traditionally word processors have tasked themselves with producing nice, printable documents. Mobile versions have followed up with the unenviable task of replicating this functionality on much smaller screens. Quip throws this entire concept out of the window, instead creating a writing experience built for the ground up for mobile devices. The team released an alpha version over the summer, but it was little more than a demo of the iOS version of the app.
It's pretty easy to understand why typing isn't exactly an optimal experience on a smartphone. They are designed to fit in palms and come with virtual keys smaller than the fingertips used to press them. Tablets don't suffer from this problem, but they come with one of their own - a user can type speedily using the significantly larger keys, but resting their fingers on the screen for a mere second is all it takes to turn "superpower" to "sauerkraut," and suddenly that status update about whether America should get involved in Syria accumulates a different flood of Facebook comments than was expected.
I'm a huge fan of text expanders. Seriously, they are necessary to me. As a regular user of both Mac and Windows, I have sought out solutions on both platforms and rely on them daily. That's why I've always felt horrified that there weren't any great options on Android. After all, mobile devices are already input-impaired, it only makes sense that we need quality shortcuts. As it turns out, such a shortcut has been under our noses for quite some time, tucked away where few would look and only available with the stock Android 4.1 (or higher) keyboard.
We generally have a rule at Android Police HQ: we don't post about Kickstarter/Indiegogo projects at least until they've been funded. Too often things turn into vaporware and people's money ends up wrapped up in things like Diaspora that never take off. Today, we're making a rare exception to talk about Minuum, because this video starts off as "Oh, that's kinda cool," and quickly shifts to "Holy crap, that's amazeballs!"
As you can see in the beginning of the video, the concept is fairly simple.