Still using Gboard

A brief history of the different keyboards I've tried on my phone, and how I ended up using GBoard despite it all.

Yesterday’s post was written on my phone, and that’s the case today. It honestly doesn’t take that much time to do it here compared to my laptop, because what limits my typing speed is not how fast I type, but how much time I spend thinking on what to write next.

This makes it so typing on a phone is not so bad of an experience, but the other factor is GBoard.

As a FOSS enthusiast, I tend to favor using FOSS apps on my phone. The reality is that quite a bunch of the alternative keyboards simply aren’t good enough, it wasn’t always that way though…

My story with phone keyboards

I’ll skip the T9 keyboards and the non-android phones, I already wrote about the phones I’ve had. All I remember is that at some point I tried predictive T9 and it was so fast it was amazing, but those times are long gone now.

In the beginning, the weird Chinese phone I had was the worst thing ever, it wasn’t a modern touch screen, I could push too hard and it would leave a mark, it also had no multi-touch functionality at all. I just used the default keyboard because the thing only had like 512 MB of storage.

The HTC Status had a pretty decent physical keyboard, it was not bad, but the keys were kinda mushy and it was getting worse over time. Regardless, it was pretty nifty and I was able to program all the keys on a GBA emulator and play games like that. It kinda sucked but I did it anyways, and for a turn based rpg like Pokemon, it didn’t matter how responsive those things were.

From there I got a Galaxy S3 mini, handed down by my dad. This phone was where I explored a bunch of different keyboard options all the time. The thing was rooted and modded to oblivion, it actually died because of that. Back then, my favorite keyboard was Fleksy, the ability to hide the space bar and use just gestures to move around was fantastic because of the small screen factor and the responsiveness of it all.

Sadly, later updates have made some random changes that I am not a fan of, they started trying to implement swipe typing (like most keyboards) instead of improving their existing gesture method, and it kinda broke it all.

After Fleksy, I became a huge fan of Openboard, it had some of the nice gestures of Gboard without all the fuss, it worked wonderfully and I didn’t have a need for much else for quite a while. However, something started to change…

Switching to GBoard

I started to write in English more. After I started to interact on more diverse places like Discord and eventually Mastodon, I had the need to switch between keyboard languages, and Openboard or Fleksy just didn’t cut it anymore, nothing did.

That’s when GBoard won. Swiftkey was a contender and I’ve tried it multiple times, for months, but I just love the features and the smoothness GBoard brings. The Material You theming, the predictions and suggestions, and of course the fact that I don’t need to set my keyboard in a language or another, it will just work as I expect it to do so.

I would love to tell you I have it all locked down and without internet access, but honestly I just install it and don’t think much about that. It respects the privacy mode while filling password fields or using certain apps and the word suggestions just get better and better. The clipboard feature is also pretty good, as well as the built-in translator. So far it’s been a few years old things working just fine…

I still keep an eye on the FOSS alternatives, but it is how it is. 🤷‍♂️

This is post 70 of #100DaysToOffload. Have a good rest of your day, fellow reader. 😊


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