Hacker's Keyboard for Android

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 21, 2016
Google Android

Hacker's Keyboard is a free keyboard application for Google Android that works well as an all-purpose keyboard but also specifically for administrative tasks.

Google rolled out Gboard recently, an update of the Google Keyboard for Android application which introduced search capabilities and a line on top of the keyboard that would not go away.

I did use the Google Keyboard app on my Android device up until that point, but made the decision to look for an Android keyboard alternative as I did not like the direction and focus of development.

A search for the best Android keyboards revealed hundreds of top lists which all listed the same five, ten or fifteen keyboard applications; all popular choices but not a simple application that puts you in control.

Hacker's Keyboard for Android

Enter Hacker's Keyboard for Android. The application requires no extra permissions, which is always a good sign. It is completely free, the source code is available on GitHub, and it requires no Internet connection to work properly.

You need to allow the application to function as a keyboard, and set it as the default keyboard application after installation. You may also want to download dictionary files provided by the author of the application to add support for those languages.

The keyboard uses a four row layout by default. You can change that to a full five row keyboard layout instead which adds a lot of new characters to the keyboard interface including Ctrl, Tab, arrow keys, or Esc.

The keyboard displays suggestions as you type in the top row. You can disable this completely in the application if you don't require that functionality.

While we are at it. The settings are quite extensive. You find plenty of options to change the visual appearance of the keyboard interface, input methods, and key behavior settings.

The latter ships with a couple of interesting options. You may define gesture actions for instance, enable auto-capitalization, or configure sliding key events.

You may also set up a permanent notification for quick access, or disable quick fixes which auto-correct common issues.

full hackers keyboard

Closing Words

Hacker's Keyboard is a plain soft keyboard application for Android. It does not ship with AI, phone home functionality, and does not suffer from feature overload. It works really well, offers many customization options, and offers full keyboard layout support.

This is without doubt one of the best keyboard apps for Android.  It is not for all users obviously. If you like search for instance, you won't get that here.

One downside: some keys, slash and backslash for instances, are missing from the full keyboard layout (they are available when you long-press on certain keys though).

Now You: Which keyboard app do you use?


software image
Author Rating
3 based on 10 votes
Software Name
Hacker's Keyboard
Operating System
Software Category
Landing Page

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  1. Q said on October 12, 2018 at 10:00 am

    It looks like Hacker’s Keyboard and some of its dictionaries are being removed from Google Play Store.

    1. Q said on November 28, 2018 at 3:11 am

      Hacker’s Keyboard is back on Google Play store and development is continuing.

  2. TelV said on December 23, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Changing the keyboard has suddenly become imperative for me since updating to Nougat 7.1.1 last night which has changed the lettertype to display all the characters in uppercase. There’s no option to switch to lowecase as the default setting that I can find and the ugly Samsung keyboard is the only option. With Marshmallow, the Google KB could be enabled instead. That’s now gone.

    Any suggestions will be most appreciated. The phone is a Samsung J5 (2016) by the way.

    I should perhaps add that I don’t need all the bells and whistles which come with many KBs: just the standard lowercase and the @ key on the default display.

  3. Thiago said on December 24, 2016 at 2:09 am

    The McAfee launched McAfee Safe Keyboard recently

  4. Troy said on December 23, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Hi Martin,

    Have to put in a massive vote for MessagEase. It’s a free, privacy-respecting keyboard that is amazingly configurable, scientifically validated, and switches languages with ease. There is a mini-game that comes from the same company/research group that helps get you over the first few hours of unfamiliarity. Try it out. I used to use the excellent Hacker’s Keyboard before I came across MessagEase about 4 years ago. It helped me get over the loss of slide-out physical keyboards. Would definitely be interested in your comments or review.

  5. Rafeal Cardozo said on December 22, 2016 at 2:52 am

    I love my fleksy keyboard. web site: http://fleksy.com/

  6. Max said on December 22, 2016 at 12:38 am

    After trying several others I’ve been using Dexilog’s ‘Smart Keyboard Pro’ for the last couple of years. Easy to flip between multiple languages and keyboard layouts, plus a large number of configuration options means – so it’s now well tweaked to suit my preferences.

  7. Your Name said on December 21, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Hi Martin,

    thanks for the article. Do you know a keyboard for android that supports text shortcuts? I have an OnePlus 1 with the stock keyboard but can’t get text shortcuts to work in it.

    Your Name

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 21, 2016 at 9:33 pm

      I have not looked at this unfortunately. Maybe someone else can chime in?

  8. Manitas said on December 21, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Interesting. The dictionary for my main language has bad reviews though.

    @Martin and anyone who tested the app: The article says there’s no AI, how good is the keyboard at proposing completed words for what you are currently typing ? (In both English and German and whatever languages you people speak, if possible)

  9. Anonymous said on December 21, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    For those that prefer to avoid the “Play Store”, ‘Hacker’s Keyboard for Android’ appears to be available on F-Droid (https://f-droid.org/), the free and open source alternative to the Play Store. F-Droid seems to be keeping it up to date, as well. There are several other keyboards there, too.

  10. Ahmet Ay said on December 21, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Full QWERTY keyboard is useful for when using remote desktop applications to control your PC from your Android device.

  11. Yuliya said on December 21, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Default in CyanogenMod, which is called “Android Keyboard (AOSP)”. It’s exactly like Google keyboard though with a few extra features (symbols on long press, although I think newer versions of GKeyboard have this too now), but without any of the privacy implications. To my knowledge it doesn’t have any internet capabilities, my phone reports “no data used” for this application. I’m fine with that (:
    I don’t know how one can get it though, it doesn’t seem to be in Play Store.

  12. sovul said on December 21, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    I was searching for a keyboard a long time until I came across Hacker’s keyboard. For me, it is the best dang keyboard because it’s just a plain ole keyboard and nothing else. ’nuff said.

  13. MartinDK said on December 21, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    I’ve been using Swype for the past five years.
    It has swiping functionality, but often it writes another word than what I wanted to swipe – around 25% of the time.
    There’s no option to specify if you’re a slow & precise or fast swiper, and the guesses never improver over time. This means that every so often, I tire of Swype on go looking for another keyboard, but I always wind up coming back.

    The reasons I come back are:

    The Swype key in the bottom left corner acts as a modifier. Much like Ctrl in Windows. Swiping from that to a specific key will do a specific action.
    For instance, “Swype key to a” = Select all – and vice versa with x & c for cut and copy. This in and of itself would be enough to drive me back to Swype every time.
    You can also go Sype key to T, which gives a full numerical keypad.

    -Multiple languages.
    I usually run with Danish & English. In Swype, you can quickly switch between languages (there a Swype to spacebar shortcut for it), and Swype will only suggest words from the current language. Swiftkey, for instance, will at random suggest english words when I’m in the middle of typing a sentence in Danish, which I find extremely annoying.

    The two things from Gboard I’m envious of are the ability to move the text entry position, indicated by a blinking vertical line (is it called the caret?) by swiping on spacebar, as well at the option to slide left from backspace to highlight how much of the previous text you wish to delete – before actually deleting it, meaning if you slide too far back, you can “undo” it.

  14. Jonathan said on December 21, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I use Ginger keyboard, I have found it to be a nice alternative and it allows swipe.

  15. Negroj said on December 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    does it allow to swipe ?

  16. Dave said on December 21, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    I use Word Flow, not because it’s great but because it seems to be less sh*te than all the others. It’s still pretty crappy. Obviously I don’t let it phone home.

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