Android Tips n tricks: Keyboards (Android Smartphones and Tablets)

There are a lot of keyboards for Android Smartphones and tablets to choose from, each with their own tricks; here, we’ll just look at a few tips that apply to all keyboards in general.

Quickly Switch Keyboard

Instead of diving through the Settings menu to switch keyboard, you can do it from within any app: just long-press a text field and tap “Input method”, then choose your new keyboard from the list.

Alternative Symbols
Some keys can display more than one symbol: you can long-press the key and swipe over one of the symbols that pops up to insert it. For example, long-tap “c” and you can insert a “รง”. On the default keyboard (and some others), the letters that hide extra symbols have an ellipsis (“…”) in the corner.
Most keyboards also have a whole set of alternative keys, accessed by pressing a key marked “?123″ or “ALT” or similar. HTC Sense has two menus, but it’s easy to miss the second one: it’s opened by pressing a key marked “1/2″, which some people naturally assume means a “half” symbol!

Hide the Keyboard
You can almost always toggle the keyboard by long-pressing the Menu key. On Ice Cream Sandwich, this won’t work, but most keyboards let you dismiss them by swiping down within them. (One exception is Swype, for obvious reasons.)
Why would you want to do this? Well, sometimes text fields trigger the keyboard when you don’t want it covering half of the screen, and sometimes the keyboard doesn’t automatically appear when you do want it
– this often happens with web pages that require text input, but don’t have any text boxes.

Quick Contractions

The standard keyboard’s auto-correct is great, overall, but there are circumstances where it can’t guess what you’re saying. In particular, it can’t automatically change “ill” to “I’ll” or “well” to “we’ll”, which is frustrating but understandable. However, itwill automatically change “il” to “I’ll” and “wel” to “we’ll” (unless you have “il” and “wel” saved in the dictionary), so remembering this could help you stay in flow when typing.
It also seems that “iys” and “thays” get changed to “it’s” and “that’s”, respectively.