Earlier days mobile phones had rigid operating systems with little or no customization features. Even today, Apple’s iOS has limited options to customize the default keyboard layout. Fortunately, Android provides a variety of ways to customize the on-screen keyboard of smartphones. If you are bored with default keyboard layout, here is how to customize the Gboard and use custom keyboard layout in Android phones.
Using Keyboard Layouts in Android
There are good reasons why users looking for using custom keyboard layouts in Android phones.
- Some users like to change the appearance like color to avoid boring look.
- Other may want to change the complete layout with additional emoji and symbols on their keyboard.
- Sometimes, users want to install a custom keyboard of their second language for typing messages.
Continue reading the article if you want to know more about all of these features.
Note: Often, mobile phone brands provide their own keyboards. Check the manual of the phone to find out more details and customize the brand-provided virtual keyboard on Android.
Google Keyboard (Gboard)
‘Gboard – the Google Keyboard’ is the official Google developed keyboard app for Android. Most Android phones come with preinstalled Gboard app while few models do not. In that case, you have to install the app first before customizing it.
Customizing Google Keyboard (Gboard)
- Open ‘Settings’ and navigate to ‘System > Language & input’ section.
- Choose ‘On-screen keyboard’ in the coming menu list. It will show up the list of all installed keyboards on your phone. Check if ‘Gboard’ is available in the list.
- If ‘Gboard’ is not in the list, go to Google Play store and install ‘Gboard’ app.
- Now tap on ‘Gboard’ under ‘Language & input’ section to view the list of customization options for that app.
Adding Additional Language Layouts
The first item in the customization list is ‘Languages’. Tap on it to display the default language and layouts. Now you can press the language and keyboard to customize further. You will find different keyboard layouts for English like ‘QWERTY,’ ‘Handwriting,’ ‘QWERTZ,’ ‘AZERTY,’ and others on the next page.
If your desired language is not available, then add the keyboard for that language first. For that go back to the ‘Languages’ page and press ‘ADD KEYBOARD’ option showing at the bottom. You will find a list of all languages and select your desired language. Now, the layout page of the keyboard of your chosen language will display. You can check and change the layout as per your requirements. Choose your desired layout by touching on the button at the bottom of the layout preview. You can also select multiple layouts. After finishing your layout selection, press ‘Done’ to go back to the previous screen.
The screen will now list all the selected keyboard layouts. Again, press the back arrow to go back to and the page once again will show the list of keyboards. Now, press ‘Manage on-screen keyboards’ option at the end. The next page will display the status of the installed keyboards and make sure ‘Gboard’ is enabled.
Switch Language When Typing
Now that you have added custom keyboard layout in Android phone, it’s time to test how it works.
- Open any messaging app to type a message and tap on the writing area to bring the keyboard.
- Long press the spacebar to see the list of available keyboards and layouts.
- Select the layout you want, and the keyboard layout will change.
- Enjoy typing with your favorite keyboard layout.
- You can toggle the layout whenever you want to switch the language.
Changing Appearance of Google Keyboard (Gboard)
Android also provides a ton of options to change the appearance of Gboard. You can set your favorite color or a theme. The following steps will walk you through the process of adding a custom color for your Gboard.
- Open ‘Settings’ and go to ‘System > Language & input’.
- Find ‘On-screen keyboard’ and tap on it.
- Next, select ‘Gboard’ from the list of keyboards and choose ‘Theme’ from the list on the next page.
- You will see all the options to change the color of the keyboard and choose a landscape of your choice. Advanced options like ‘Light gradient’ and ‘Dark gradient’ are also available. Do not forget to press ‘See more’ to display more themes.
- Once you are happy with the theme, tap on it and a preview will pop up. Preview your theme and hit the ‘APPLY’ button.
- Go back and open any texting app that shows the keyboard. The keyboard will show up with your selected theme. Make sure, Gboard is currently your active keyboard. If not, long-press the space bar and select ‘Gboard’ from the list of available keyboards.
Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard
‘Gboard’ is the best keyboard for Android that works perfectly and provides tons of customization. However, some users may not be satisfied with it and want to have an alternative. In that case, ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’ is the best alternative for ‘Gboard’. ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’ features more customization and theming options than ‘Gboard’ with superb text prediction.
Enabling Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard
Go to Google Play store and install the ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’ app in your phone.
After completing the installation, tap on the app to open a page with list of options. Find and tap ‘Enable SwiftKey’ in the options. It will directly open the ‘Manage on-screen keyboards’ where you can enable ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’. Now, go back to the home screen of the ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’ and press the ‘Select SwiftKey’ button. It will display a ‘Choose input method’ pop-up message and select ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’ from the list of the radio buttons.
Once again go back to the home screen of the ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’ and press ‘Finish up’. The next screen will display essential features of the keyboard. You can sign in with your Microsoft account to copy and paste text between your phone and Windows devices. If you do not want to sign in with your Microsoft account, press ‘Not now’ option to proceed further.
Related: 10 Microsoft apps for iPhone users.
Customizing Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard
It is easy to customize ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’
- Open ‘Settings’ and go to ‘System’ and then to ‘Language & input’ section.
- Find ‘On-screen keyboard’ and tap on it.
- Now tap on ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’ to open the app settings up and touch’ Languages’.
- Press the entry below ‘Your Languages’ and choose languages for your keyboard. From here, you can select the keyboard layout as well.
- Once you are happy with the layout, go back and check.
- The app also offers tons of advanced customization options which you can try out.
Change Appearance of Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard
- In order to change the appearance, tap on ‘On-screen keyboard’ option when you are in ‘Language & input’ settings.
- Now hit ‘Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard’ and tap ‘Themes’ from the menu. A huge list of theme gallery will open up. Browser through different tabs to find more personalized themes. It is also possible to design your own custom theme.
- If the theme is not stored on your phone, it will display a message to download the theme. To download the theme, you have to sign into the app if you did not sign in before. Alternatively, you can hit ‘YOURS’ and select the theme. These themes are usually saved on the phone memory, and you can apply them immediately without downloading.