The all in one keyboard from Google with both conventional and gesture typing.
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Pro Fast, low memory usage
Alternative keyboards tend to suck up system resources, often making them nearly unusable on older phones. Google Keyboard is very quick to open when typing and the keys rarely lag.
Pro 100% Free From Google
This keyboard is not a free trial nor will it hold back any new features to sell you a paid version. The keyboard is completely 100% free.
Pro Minimalistic design
While other keyboard options may be very functional, their visual design tends to differ from the rest of your Google device. The Google Keyboard was designed by Google and it looks like it.
Pro Swipe support
The Google Keyboard supports swiping along the keyboard to spell out whole words.
Pro Learns preferred words
After using a gesture a few times and clicking the correct word, Google Keyboard learns that the gesture should result in the word you've manually selected as the correct word. Swype doesn't seem to learn this, so even after 100 times clicking 'this' instead of 'thesis', it still produces 'thesis', where Google Keyboard learns that you meant to say 'this'.
Pro Material Design
Google Keyboard has material design themes the user can skin the keyboard with.
Pro Languages can be switched in one swipe
A simple swipe on the space bar or a tap on the globe (next to the space bar) will alternate between your selected languages. This is great for bilinguals that no longer have to mess with settings if they want to switch languages.
Pro Suggestions don't get worse over time
Google keyboard does not promise to be as "smart" as other keyboards besides offering a personalized dictionary. Surprisingly this is actually a good thing for some because with many "smart" keyboards predictions and corrections actually worsen over time. With Google Keyboard the experience will remain constant because it requires you to manually "touch again to save" before it changes your personal dictionary. This prevents mistakes from becoming part of your personal dictionary.
Pro Dynamic floating preview
The dynamic floating preview appears while gesture typing. Most gesture keyboards only show the preview above the keyboard in the suggested corrections. The dynamic floating preview is great because it makes it easier to gesture type by keeping your eyes focused on what you are typing.
Pro One-handed mode
Makes it easier to type with no more than a thumb.
Pro Can use alternative layouts not just QWERTY
For those that are used to typing on a Dvorak keyboard or prefer not to need multiple key presses to access special symbols they can enable these as additional quick switch options. Using the English PC layout for example gives the user a number row.
Pro Swipe to punctuation
Hold down the key in the lower left hand corner and a keyboard if punctuation appears. Swipe over to the one you want, lift your finger, and the original keyboard pops back. It's very fast, and makes it much easier to spot the punctuation mark you want - instead of trying to squint at the secondary symbols in the keys.
Con Very little customization
Google Keyboard allows you to enable or disable
vibrate on keypress
sound on keypress
popup on keypress
double space period
These are pretty useful basic settings but most other keyboards offer more options. Google also allows you to edit the personal dictionary.
Con No simultaneous language typing
User needs to change the language manually. Not very convenient for bilingual (or more).
Con Takes up a lot of storage
If you are using multiple languages and predictive text, the app can use up a lot of storage.
Con Can't resize keyboard
The keyboard can't float, or shrink, or move to the side - all of which other keyboards can do, and which is extremely useful.
Con Prediction isn't as good as SwiftKey
Con Horrible Word Prediction
Con Uses a lot of RAM
Con Restricted customization (few skins)
Con Only 26 languages
While a keyboard available in 26 languages is nothing to be ashamed of, other keyboard options simply offer more. SwiftKey is available in 61 languages and Swype is available in 71. Fortunately, if your language is one of the 26, you're good.
Con Symbol order is (slightly) different from full-sized QWERTY keyboard
Instead of the first four symbols being !@#$%^& (i.e. shift+1 through 7 on a QWERTY keyboard), they're @#$%&. This is fine if you know the symbols in your password, but if you're like me and you just hold the SHIFT key and type a long number, you'll have to consult a real keyboard to figure out your password.