Honeycomb Keyboard Alternatives

July 4, 2011, By Christian Cawley

One of the most important aspects of any platform is providing the user with a simple and straightforward means to enter text. Traditionally this has been via a hardware keyboard, but with the advent of touchscreen phones – and more recently tablets – text entry is increasing performed with a software keyboard.

While there are obvious disadvantages to this method (not least the reduced screen real estate that results when you want to use the keyboard) there are also several advantages, such as the ability to easily reconfigure the keyboard depending on your intended use.

For instance, Android Honeycomb tablet users may feel that the standard QWERTY software keyboard isn’t quite what they’re looking for in an input method and download an alternative from the Market. While the default Honeycomb keyboard is good, it isn’t well suited to input via thumb, whereas the Thumb Keyboard app is, making it ideal for anyone already used to typing on a mobile phone.

Honeycomb thumb keyboard in action

Top Alternative Keyboards for Honeycomb

Various alternative software keyboards are available for Honeycomb.

Thumb Keyboard is a particularly popular alternative to any Android device keyboard, and features various configurations. In addition to the obvious thumb-based input (which splits the keyboard in half so that all keys are accessible via each thumb) this option also features configurations for different sized devices, making it suitable for phones, 7 inch tablets and 10 inch tablets.

SlideIT meanwhile is a completely different method of keyboard-based text entry, requiring not tapping but rather “sliding”. Rather than enter each letter individually, this system invites you to slide your finger across the touchscreen device, and using text prediction and other tools SlideIT can determine what words you are typing!

Finally, Perfect Keyboard is probably the most useful option for any Android user, offering various keyboard skins and themes, as well as speech to text. In addition you can configure the keyboard layout to suit your fingers and any typing quirks that you have developed over the years.

Adding Your Honeycomb Keyboard

After downloading or purchasing your Honeycomb keyboard of choice from the Android Market, you will need to activate it, and this can be done via Settings > Language & Input > Configure input methods and selecting the new keyboard option. Note that Honeycomb will ask you to confirm this action, as there is a potential for the tool to be a keylogger that records all of your text input.

With the new keyboard selecting, the Settings button will allow you to configure your choice, although note that options here will be determined by which keyboard you have activated to replace the default choice.

When using a keyboard in Android, you can revert to the default option at any time via the settings button to the left of the space bar, a useful feature in case you quickly tire of the new input method!

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