While most people could never have predicted the impact mobile phone technology would have on the world (just take a listen at mid-20th century science fiction radio broadcasts and how they portrayed the ‘future’), there were certainly a few outlier innovators who saw the possibilities and got busy innovating. This is evidenced by smartwatch predecessors being around as early as the mid-1980, which is when Japanese watchmaker Seiko released their T001, Data 2000, and RC-1000 watches. Yet despite these smartwatches entering the market in 1980, the entrance of true consumer-friendly smartwatches with mass appeal didn’t occur until over 30 years later with the release of the first Apple Watch generations. Thirty years of innovating even though those earlier watches by Seiko were pretty noteworthy in that they could do things like connecting to most computers of the era and store upwards of 2,000 characters inputted by an external keyboard dock.
Ah, the keyboard dock. Even those early era models and their manufacturers understood the importance for users of wearable technologies to be able to write, store, and send characters (by the way, the first Apple watches still lacked an internal keyboard). In fact, until smartwatches and wear technology, in general, offered internal keyboards, these types of devices were best described as devices intended to augment smartphones and not replace them. The first Apple and Android watches were able to take incoming alerts, messages, and notifications and display them in a cliff notes type of experience but you could only respond via Siri translations.
But all that was yesterday and today, today those with Google Wear OS, formerly Android Wear, have a lot of exciting keyboard options to choose from in the app store and beyond. The following is a look at some of the best of those options that are both in the free and paid categories:
Free Keyboard Apps for Google Wear Smartwatches
Available for Google Wear and Samsung devices
The Fleksy keyboard app is so good it’s rather remarkable that it’s available or free right now — although there are rumors that its next-generation update will be a paid version, so now is a great time to download this keyboard to test out on your Google Wear smartwatch.
What makes this keyboard so great? First, it’s the only keyboard that stores info locally on your secured phone. in other words, it’s the only keyboard that isn’t spying or otherwise recording you offsite. But more practically, this keyboard features state-of-the-art autocorrection software that makes it easy for users to accurately type on their small devices without having to constantly review, re-edit, and renter. This autocorrection and ease of device make typing so quick and easy that it’s entered the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest keyboard.
Other exciting features of the Fleksky keyboard include its integration of emojis and GIF stickers. The keyboard app also includes a unique is called the Fleksynext smart assistant which will suggest restaurants or relevant emojis as you type. Think predictive text to the next level.
Available for Google Wear Smartwatches
This is an incredibly innovative keyboard that was first funded via a Kickstarter campaign back in 2015. What makes it unique is that it is the only keyboard specifically designed for the small screens of smartwatches. How it differs from other smartwatch keyboards is that the characters are placed around the outer face of the smartwatch rather like the numbers on a standard clock face.
If you have just recently gotten a smartwatch or have larger fingers that make typing on the traditional types of digital keyboards frustrating, then the TouchOne Keyboard is a fantastic choice for you. That’s because it’s innovative design makes it easy for users to get started quickly and the placement of the keys makes for easier typing by those with larger fingers while simultaneously enjoying a high accuracy input rate.
Other interesting features of the OneTouch Keyboard include the integration of several key gestures that make typing a breeze. For example, users can easily swipe left to delete, swipe up to shift, swipe right to finish typing and exit, or swipe down to enter.
Note that while the standard OneTouch Keyboard is free to install, there are optional in-app purchases that, while not necessary do enhance the experience and provide for premium content.
Smartwatch Keyboard for WEAR OS Smartwatches
Available on Google Play
A lot of the keyboard apps we have listed on this ‘free’ portion of the top keyboard apps for Google Wear Smartwatches are indeed free to download and install — but there are catches. Some will require a small fee to unlock all of the features and others will include infrequent yet still annoying advertisements. The Smartwatch Keyboard for Wear OS Smartwatches is perhaps the only actually free with no strings attached download. It was created, designed, and continues to be improved by wearable technological engineers who simply wanted something better for the public to use than the stock keyboard.
While the Smartwatch Keyboard for Wear OS does retain the standard QWERTY keyboard, what it does differently is how users interact with it. This keyboard app features a sliding feature that allows for a much wider keyboard than would otherwise be possible on the limited space of a smartwatch face. You can, in fact, opt for character keys to be three key sizes: Medium, large, and extra-large. This makes it a great choice for the smartwatch and wear technology users who love their devices but have big or otherwise fumbling hands that can’t quite work well with the small keys of the stock keyboard.
The side-to-side sliding feature of the Smartwatch Keyboard for Wear OS is undoubtedly its most notable feature but it isn’t the only one worth writing about or downloading the app for. Other cool features include a convenient Quick Text function that saves stock phrases and the ability to switch the color of keys between eight colors: Red, blue, cyan, orange, gray, pink, green, and traditional black. There is predictive text and that predictive text can be easily switched on and off; there is not auto-correction which can be more frustrating than assistive on small mobile devices like the smartwatch.
Available on Google Play, Samsung Store and for all other devices
As with many of the other best keyboards both free and paid that have made this list, MessagEase is not a QWERTY keyboard. This was a program that was first designed for smartphones and later adapted to wear technology, and throughout these changes, it has attracted a mass following of ardent users. However, even more so than the others on this list, this specialty keyboard can take some time to get used to. Uniquely, the tech geniuses behind this app understood the frustrations those familiar with QWERTY might have with a new design and created MessagEase Game (also available for free on Google Play) that helps speed up the learning process in a fun way.
And once you do get over that initial learn curve, you are likely to find MessagEase as one of the most innovative touch screen keyboards and one ideal for use on wearable devices like smartwatches. It has earned this title through the use of a novel letter positioning system that features nine large keys with resourceful letter assignments specifically designed to maximize user’s typing speed and ease of typing.
Cool features, not including the specialty learning game, include an advanced word prediction setting, keyboard reshaping and recoloring tools, and the use of drag up and down inputs.
Keyboard for Wear OS
Available on Google Play
This is a fairly simple and straightforward keyboard app for Wear OS that was designed as a step-up upgrade to replace the stock keyboard. But it does this job so well that we had to list it on this list of top keyboard apps for Google Wear smartwatches. If you love the format of your Google Wear stock keyboard but just wish for it to be slightly different, such as with larger keys and swiping capabilities, then this is a great pick for you.
A few of the great features the Keyboard for Wear OS has to offer to include support of 10 languages with predictive text for each of those languages, ability to easily swipe to delete and insert spaces, the inclusion of special characters that were not added to the stock keyboard, and more.
The Keyboard for Wear OS is free to download and install with many fantastic features but there are some emojis and customization features that can only be unlocked when you purchase the full version option. The paid full version can be unlocked following download for $2.99.
Paid Keyboard Apps for Google Wear Smartwatches
Chordinated Keyboard for Wear OS
Available on Google Play
At only $0.99, this unique keyboard is certainly worth the dollar to try. The Chordinated Keyboard for Wear OS came around much like the aforementioned OneTouch Keyboard in that it was also dreamt of and created by a solitary tech-person who was frustrated with the limitations of existing smartwatch keyboards. Like the OneTouch Keyboard, the creator of the Chordinated Keyboard saw the need for a whole new type of layout separate from the traditional QWERTY set-up. But instead of putting his characters around the face, this creator utilized a data-compression algorithm with chording to create an optimizable keyboard via button presses.
How this works is that the user will see the first row of letters that can be hit and then subsequent rows for combinations. While this keyboard does not rely on prediction, what it does is make it possible for users to type with two fingers. It can be hard to explain in words just how well this keyboard works, which is why we suggest giving it a download to try for yourself. Note that there is somewhat of a learning curve as users are essentially re-training themselves how to type but you may quickly find yourself loving it so much that you wish you could find this keyboard available on your smartphone as well!
Minuum Keyboard + Smart Emoji
Available for Google Wear
Available at $3.99, this is the latest rendition of one of the industry’s most classic small-device keyboards. In fact, the Minuum Keyboard was one of the first downloadable keyboard apps users could get to replace their installed keyboard. It became popular and has continued to be one of the most downloaded smartwatch apps due to the company’s adeptness at making the QWERTY keyboard capable of being small.
How does the Minuum Keyboard make small good? It offers an easy-to-use feature that enables users to modify the keyboard size by contracting spare letter rows into small units and thereby enabling better focus on desired inputs. This keyboard also makes it easy to access writer-friendly resources like the dictionary and thesaurus to ensure you’re typing the words you mean to type.
Other cool features of this rendition of the Minuum Keyboard + Smart Emoji include support for over a dozen languages, 800 emoticons, and smart prediction capabilities for both words and emoticons.
Available for Google Wear
This one technically can be downloaded for free for a trial period and for limited usage, but for the full experience with plug-ins, users will want to pay for the $2.99 Flit Keyboard License.
The Flit Keyboard is technically set up with rows of characters as you’d see them in a normal QWERTY keyboard, however, here they are separated into either four or eight larger buttons. To type, you click or tap one of those buttons and then slide to type enter the desired character. This helps cut down on sloppy or messed up typing while still retaining the familiar QWERTY layout. The more you use the keyboard, the keyboard’s AI will create a customized Key Mapper according to the user’s common habits. This allows users to swap out buttons for a more personalized and easy-to-use fit.
Other exciting features the Flit keyboard has to offer include user-defined shortcuts, the ability to change appearance, and more.
The tap and slide text inputs of the Flit keyboard are fairly easy to master and most any new user should find themselves typing with ease within a week of download. However, given that it is paid and that it still relies on the traditional QWERTY keyboard, this version may not be the best choice for all users. Who it is great for is the user who prefers the QWERTY keyboard and is looking for something that improves upon that without being too radical a shift.
Gadget geek, watch lover, fitness fan, walker, long-time tech writer/blogger and family man.