Stock Android keyboard hits Google Play

Google has released the stock Android keyboard as a standalone app, allowing those with manufacturer-customized smartphones and tablets – such as HTC's Sense or Samsung's TouchWiz – to use the default smart 'board. Google's layout, identical to what you'd find on a pure Android 4.2.2 device, supports gesture typing, auto-prediction and -correction, and voice dictation.

Gesture typing works much in the same way as we've seen third-party keyboard options like Swype operate. Rather than pecking at the screen for individual letters, you swipe your finger from letter to letter, not lifting until you've completed the word.

The system works along with Google's solid prediction and correction engines, which we've found do a decent job of ironing out typos and figuring out what word we're aiming for. The keyboard comes with 26 language dictionaries and a choice of layouts, and can optionally download more dictionaries if the language you're looking for isn't included.

As for voice dictation, that works surprisingly well too, assuming you don't have too strong an accent. The keyboard has layouts for phones and different sizes of tablets, too, depending on what device you're looking to use it on.

Best of all, of course, is the fact that it's free. One of the reasons many struggle with manufacturer skins on top of Android is the fact that they invariably change the keyboard in some way; that might not be an issue if you're upgrading from another device using the same skin, but it can put a serious dent in productivity if you're jumping between OEMs.

Switching to the Android default, however, means no more learning curve. It's available now from the Play store.

VIA: Android Community