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Gboard vs. Microsoft SwiftKey: Which Android keyboard should you use?

Keyboards on two Android phones
Keyboards on two Android phones (Image credit: Android Central)

Gboard

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Google's keyboard is beloved by millions of users on Android and iOS, and while it's great for getting your words out quickly and accurately, getting non-standard symbols out will slow any great thought or Twitter rant to a crawl. Gboard's predictions are top-notch, but the prediction layout takes getting used to.

Gboard

Google greatness

Syncs to Google account automatically
Excellent prediction and layout
Easy-to-navigate settings
Wider support for sticker packs
Swipe to delete words is great, but could use an undo button when it goes too far
Slower to get symbols beyond , and .

Microsoft SwiftKey

Microsoft SwiftKey

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SwiftKey has had a long and storied history, and since it was bought by Microsoft back in 2016, the app has only gotten better. This keyboard's approach to punctuation and the customizable command bar make it easy for advanced editors to get what they want typed as fast as they can.

Microsoft SwiftKey

For particular typists

Better customization of size/layout
Swipe from the period key for quicker punctuation
More expansive theme gallery
Clipboard copy-paste of multiple recent items
More convoluted settings menu
Doesn't support outside sticker packs

We spend all day on our phones, and that means that the keyboard we use to type on our phones is a big, big deal because a bad keyboard can slow your communication to a crawl or riddle it with typos. Gboard and SwiftKey have ruled the mobile keyboard space for years, but both have definite strengths and weaknesses that I'm here to help you navigate.

I'm going to say right now there is no absolute, hands-down, better-for-everyone winner here. Keyboards are an app category that is highly subjective; what's best for me may not be best for you.

Gboard's great for most, but SwiftKey still has niche advantages

You're probably already using Gboard since it came pre-loaded on your phone and it's given you few reasons to look elsewhere. Between its prediction prowess and continued inclusion of excellent features like floating keyboard, GIF searching, and making your own sticker packs and custom emoji — because that's somehow a thing we expect keyboards to do these days — Gboard's got one of the best typing experiences around, especially for newer users that might still be getting used to using an on-screen keyboard.

GboardSwiftKey
Supported languages/dialects on Android626478
Multi-language support
Swipe typingWordWord and sentence
Emoji predictions
Keyboard toolbarFixed toolbar orderCustomizable toolbar
Number of on-keyboard tools512
In-keyboard search engineGoogle SearchBing
Google Search
Sticker pack supportSome Google Play sticker pack supportInternal packs only
Custom sticker creation
GIF searchingAutomatic and manualManual only
Floating keyboard support
Custom theme support
Swipe to delete wordsIn Gestures mode only
Swipe to input symbols
Clipboard management

Gboard supports a wider range of languages and dialects/character styles than SwiftKey, and Gboard's also got the upper hand when it comes to sticker pack selection, GIF searching, and in-keyboard web search. Word and media prediction on Gboard is slightly faster and better than SwiftKey, due to Google's machine learning leverage to learn your lingo and habits more quickly.

All that said, my default keyboard is SwiftKey for three reasons, and while they are not deal-breakers for everyone, they were important enough to switch for me:

Symbol swiping

You can swipe left and right on the period button to quickly add ! and ? to sentences (and I use it for commas frequently, too), as opposed to having to long-press and drag to get them on Gboard. I am a very expressive person that is easily excitable and naturally curious, so these symbols are important and I don't want to long-press or switch pages every single time I use them. The long-press symbols next to keys on the main keyboard are easier for me to read on SwiftKey than on Gboard, which helps for quickly adding brackets or other formatting symbols to my work.

Clipboard access

I do an insane amount of copy-pasting, especially when working on themes that have hex color codes copy-pasted multiple places in different orders. Easy access to the clipboard though SwiftKey's feature bar allows me to easily paste multiple items without having to long-press the cursor and find the clipboard option every time. It's a lifesaver for confirmation codes and live-tweeting with multiple hashtags.

Google's clipboard skills have improved lately, but it's still not quite as good as SwiftKey in my opinion.

Prediction layout

Gboard's predictions are great, especially after years and years of typing on this keyboard, but Gboard shows three alternate suggestions in the prediction bar while the intended word sits in your actual text box or document (seen left). This means there's no repetition and you see more predictions, but it also means that I have to look down at the keys, then look up at the text, then down at the keys, then up at the text, and that's exhausting. I end up tapping the center prediction even though I did type the word I wanted, then backspacing and typing it again. SwiftKey is normal (seen right): whatever you typed is center, predictions on either side.

At the end of the day, your keyboard is supposed to help you type faster, and between copy-pasting and symbol-cursing like the %$&@ $?#!>@%^ I am, SwiftKey lets me type faster and better. Gboard gives me more and better sticker packs, a more simplified layout, and if I could ever get used to its prediction layout, I would adore Gboard and its swipe-to-delete the last word — the only thing I ever truly miss on SwiftKey.

Gboard's floating!

Until then, though, Gboard's great for most folks — and likely for you, too — and if you want something a little more editor-friendly, SwiftKey's here for you, with great themes, excellent customization options, and all the symbols you can #%^$ a $%#* at.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.