Gone are the days when words were enough to fully express our thoughts and feelings. Emoji, a recently accepted form of pictographic communication that now serves as a kind of Esperanto for the internet age, plays a major role in interpersonal and international communications. Most major keyboards for both Android and iOS feature built-in support for emoji, but they are hardly front and center. If you’re looking for a keyboard to truly satisfy your emoji obsession, you may need a dedicated emoji keyboard to carry out the task of conveying your emotions visually via a text environment.
When you download a keyboard app in iOS, you must add it to your list of keyboards. To do this, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboards. Then, scroll to the Third-Party Keyboards section and choose the keyboard app. Then, tap on the keyboard app and toggle on Allow Full Access. For Android 10, you can install your new keyboard directly via the Google Play Store to your Android phone, if it is compatible with the app, and then launch and follow any directions it has.
Here are a few of our favorite third-party keyboard apps for iOS and Android.
Gboard is a highly functional keyboard from Google that concentrates on handy features like emoji search, GIFs, stickers, and glide typing. Best of all, it has the Google search app integrated into the keyboard — no more switching apps. Just search for anything from the weather to your neighborhood bodega and send, all from this nifty keyboard.
Emoji> offers a ton of emoji characters you can use via the keyboard, and they’re split into different categories, making it easy to find the emoji you’re looking for. The keyboard also provides animated stickers and the ability to set up specific emoji as favorites, so you can access them at a moment’s notice without having to search for the ones you want. Updates include compatibility with iOS 14 and all of its attendant emoji, including smiling face with tear, disguised face, ninja, pinched fingers, heart and lungs, black cat, polar bear, seal, dodo sandal, bubble tea, and toothbrush. New emoji widgets are also on hand.
Swiftkey is not an emoji keyboard per se, but it is the next best thing — an excellent keyboard that comes pre-loaded with hundreds of emoji for you to use. Swiftkey is already a great favorite because of its valuable predictive typing, which can also be applied to emoji. When you type a word or phrase, for example, the app suggests emoji that you can quickly use. The most recent versions include renaming the app to Microsoft Swiftkey, a new Messaging Center on the keyboard toolbar, haptic feedback, one-handed mode, 400 new languages, and new language layouts.
ai.type Keyboard Plus
As its name suggests, ai.type is built around artificial intelligence, and it’s aimed at helping people type better and faster. It also lets you customize the keyboard to better suit your needs, allowing you to change the keyboard’s layout, theme, and colors. This means you can put emoji front and center and choose from a massive catalog of more than 1,000 characters. Like many other keyboard apps, the keyboard can also suggest emoji based on what you type. The newest versions support new Emoji 12.1 for 2020 and 517 new emoji. Some 23 new gender-neutral emoji have been added, including a gender-neutral firefighter, astronaut, person in wheelchair, and judge, plus objects like otter, ringed planet, beverage box, and pinching hand.
Want to introduce a little more animation to your typing? Fleksy could be the keyboard for you. Fleksy supports a range of extensions, allowing you to add new features as you see fit. Perhaps the coolest thing about Fleksy is how easy it is to access emoji. You can scroll through dozens of emoji in each category and switch categories with a tap at the bottom of the keyboard. As is the case with many keyboards, you can also install themes. Updated versions add features like Next Word Prediction, available in 28 languages, and Emoji Prediction so you can see emoji predicted according to your conversation’s context.
Go Keyboard is a customizable keyboard that lets you prominently place emoji, emoticons, stickers, and GIFs. The app transforms text into emoji and emoticons, and you can choose from more than 1,000 emoji and stickers, plus more than 10, 000 themes. It supports more than 60 languages, too. You can even type with gestures and different fonts and personalize your keyboard with your own photo theme. The Fancy Font feature lets you choose your favorite keyboard font.