Even if we all can’t get along quite yet, at least there are some interesting debates to still be had. After all, if we can’t argue about the little things, just as much as we can about the big things, what fun is there in being a fanboy, right? Though, with the push towards all-touchscreen devices, and some manufacturers giving up hardware keyboards altogether, I’m not sure if we can say the software keyboard is a “small thing.” If it ever was, even. The keyboard we use every day, more than some of us would probably like to admit, is one of the most important parts of our phone, which is why it’s safe to assume that many of you have an opinion about the different keyboards out there.
I’ve used a lot of different keyboards over the years. In fact, like many of you, I’ve also used the “same” keyboard as it has evolved in each new major update. Usually the keyboard gets better, but there have been times when it hasn’t. Back when Android was beginning to really take off, and there were still stock Android devices being released, there was some major debate on whether or not the “skinned” keyboards were really all that much better than the vanilla version included with Google’s mobile operating system.
Some would point to HTC’s Sense UI keyboard, the one that debuted with the original Hero. That keyboard really was something special, back then. Compared to Android’s vanilla keyboard, it was something to use and cherish. Now, in today’s world, finding a keyboard you like on Android is pretty wide open. You can use the stock option, the skinned option, or even a third-party keyboard that you can download from the Play Store, or one that the manufacturer included out of the box.
Either way, Android has the options, whether or not you root your phone and add custom ROMs.
Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion, all think that you’re better off using their stock keyboard, and in most cases that isn’t a bad thing at all. I know that there are Apple haters out there, but you’d have a hard argument in front of you to try and convince people that the keyboard on the iPhone isn’t amazing. It’s one of those things that really does “just work,” even if there are little details that seem strange, especially today.
For example, the keyboard is always capitalized, and that still seems odd to me. Sure, you know when you’re actually capitalizing a letter thanks to the highlight on the shift button, but still. Being able to actually see on the keyboard itself whether or not you’re typing in all CAPS or not is pretty standard stuff, I’d think.
The first time I used the software keyboard in Windows Phone, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s quick, responsive, and it can even keep up with me while I type away whatever it is I’m writing up. However, like many others, I did notice that the keyboard would hang up here and there, and the visual cues would just stop working from time to time. That definitely threw me off, but I made due. It didn’t happen all that often, so I tended to ignore it when it did occur. Now, in Windows Phone 8, I don’t see that at all. The keyboard really is faster, more stable, and is honestly quite amazing. (It makes it even better, aesthetically, that the keyboard keys light up in the chosen “accent color” you’ve picked for the rest of the OS.)
For me, the software keyboard on any phone I choose has one major obstacle right from the start: be able to keep up with me. I type quickly, even on a smartphone, and if the keyboard can’t keep pace I tend to just skip it entirely. Screen size matters to a point, but I can adapt to any display, so that doesn’t matter much in my book. Aesthetics are a good thing to show off, but I don’t really count that for or against it.
But I want to hear what you think, Dear Reader. I want you to tell me, after your extensive practice with many keyboards over the years, which one you think is the best, and why. But, let’s keep it fair: no third-party keyboards, unless the manufacturer included it out of the box. No keyboards that you’ve downloaded from a digital store, or one you rooted your phone to get your digits on. I just want to hear from you which keyboard you think rules the roost, and why, so fill me in!