Best overall

Gboard

Free

See on Google Play

Google originally designed the Gboard for the iPhone, and they took their time making it available for Android. The wait was worth it, as Google Keyboard has been rebranded and updated with great new features including integrated web search. The Gboard is completely free, supports gesture typing for both individual words and entire sentences, a bounty of languages, and a modest choice of themes.

The Gboard employs Google's own speech-to-text engine for voice dictation, and while it might not be the best at predictive text, it does learn from your typed data across Google's apps and services. If you've been using the Google Keyboard, you should check the Google Play store to update your phone to the Gboard.

Bottom-line: Gboard has pretty much every feature you'd want from a touch keyboard, including the ability to quickly search Google from virtually anywhere in your phone. It's fast, reliable, and minimalist, with theme options to tweak in the settings.

One more thing: Go into the keyboard settings and turn on the G button for quick access to Google search. You won't regret it!

Why Gboard is the best

The Google Keyboard was already our favorite keyboard for Android, but the new features added with the Gboard update simply makes the best even better. They just keep adding all the smart features that Android users have enjoyed from other keyboards and wrap it all in a quick and responsive (and free!) package.

You have the option of tap-typing or swiping around for words, one-handed or two. It features built-in search powered by Google, and also employs Google's speech-to-text technology, which will only get better fine-tuned as it's built out. And it even incorporates GIFs, which can be found alongside the full suite of Android emojis. If your phone doesn't already come with the Google Keyboard pre-installed, do your thumbs a favor and check it out.

Best for predictions

Swiftkey

Free

See on Google Play

For years, SwiftKey soared above Google's included keyboard, and it did — and still does — come pre-installed on many a phone and tablet. SwiftKey's prediction methods, called the "fluency engine," has made it the keyboard that many users and editors alike keep coming back to. SwiftKey has been pre-loaded on millions of devices over the years, including on Samsung's flagship phones.

While SwiftKey used to be a paid app, the keyboard itself went free in 2014, instead having its users pay for themes. SwiftKey has led the keyboard pack for a while, and was our readers' top response when we asked which keyboard they used. And it's still a great option in 2016.

Bottom-line: SwiftKey is a great option for those looking for an alternative to the stock Google keyboard.

One more thing: On the topic of themes, there are over 80 of them to choose from in all sorts of colors and styles to fit your personality.

Best for gesture typing

Swype

$0.99

See on Google Play

Swype is to SwiftKey as GM is to Ford. Both are established, respected, feature-rich keyboards. Swype allows you to swipe out words or whole sentences, and also supports typing in two languages at once, for bilingual users. Swype offers a free trial version, but the full version is only a dollar, and themes are an additional two dollars apiece.

Swype ties into Android's Accessibility features for TalkBack and Explore By Touch, which make Swype a keyboard vision-impaired users can learn more easily on their own. Copy/Cut/Paste functions are embedded as gestures in Swype's keyboard, too. Swype all the things!

Bottom-line: Swype originally introduced the world to fluid, swipe-based typing, and is still a quality keyboard for Android.

One more thing: Swype is great for sports fans, offering offers themes, including Major League Soccer themes.

Best overall

Gboard

Free

See on Google Play

Google originally designed the Gboard for the iPhone, and took their time making it available for Android. The wait was worth it, as Google Keyboard has been rebranded and updated with great new features including integrated web search. The Gboard is completely free, supports gesture typing for both individual words and entire sentences, a bounty of languages, and a modest choice of themes.

The Gboard employs Google's own speech-to-text engine for voice dictation, and while it might not be the best at predictive text, it does learn from your typed data across Google's apps and services. If you've been using the Google Keyboard, you should check the Google Play store to update your phone to the Gboard.

Bottom-line: Gboard has pretty much every feature you'd want from a touch keyboard, including the ability to quickly search Google from virtually anywhere in your phone. It's fast, reliable, and minimalist, with theme options to tweak in the settings.

One more thing: Go into the keyboard settings and turn on the G button for quick access to Google search. You won't regret it!