OpenBoard is a privacy-friendly keyboard for Android

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 1, 2021
Google Android

OpenBoard is a free privacy-friendly open source keyboard based on AOSP for Android devices. Widely used Android keyboards such as Google's or Microsoft's keyboards are not necessarily the best choice when it comes to privacy.

Android users who prefer alternatives may take a look at OpenBoard, an open source keyboard for Android devices that promises better privacy. OpenBoard is available on F-Droid, on the project's GitHub repository, and on Google Play.  The app offers a good range of features and customization options.

Core features include text corrections, suggestions, multi-language support, appearance options, and more. Once you have installed it on the device you need to make it the default keyboard before you can start using it.

openboard keyboard android

You may want to open the settings first to customize the functionality and appearance of the keyboard for Android. The keyboard supports all system languages by default, but you can change those to a specific set of languages, or only one language in the options.

The appearance options let you change the theme, enable customized input styles, e.g. German QWERTY keyboard support, and keyboard resizing. The latter enables you to change the height scale of the keyboard to make it bigger or smaller on the screen.

Some appearance options are found under Preferences. There you may enable the Number Row or the Emoji key all the time. Other options that you find here include disabling auto-capitalization of the first word of sentences, the voice input key, or double-space to add a full stop followed by a space.

OpenBoard supports spell checking, text corrections and suggestions. The preferences to enable or disable these are found under "text correction" in the settings. Suggestions and auto-corrections are enabled by default, and you can disable them all in the menu,

The advanced preferences menu hosts several interesting options. Enable "force incognito mode" to disable the learning of new words, change the key long press interval, or disable the space bar and delete-key swipe actions (the former moves the cursor, the latter deletes larger selections of text).

Closing words

Using the keyboard works well on Android if you are used to the default Google keyboard. The open source app does not replicate all features, but if you just need a basic keyboard to type, that is private, and gives you some customization options, then this may be an option, especially since it is open source and not operated by one of the big players.

Now You: which keyboard do you use on your Android devices?

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  1. Byron said on February 6, 2024 at 9:30 pm

    …This is a fork of Openboard with swipe functionality which for me is better than both Anysoftkeyboard and Floris as stands. Nearly as good as Gboard, but seemly this fork of Openboard is private and certainly open source (on Github)

    Wish I’d found it ages ago!

  2. Tony said on April 22, 2023 at 3:30 pm

    Very interesting.

  3. Mordalo said on October 25, 2022 at 11:17 pm

    I like OpenBoard and used it, but the lack of swipe functionality limits its use for me. As I get older (I’m in the AARP group), it’s difficult using keyboards, even if I resize them. Swiping is simpler (not perfect, but better), and even though it’s a difficult addition, it would be nice to have.

  4. Ivan said on June 8, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    I just compared OpenBoard vs AnySoftKeyboard vs Florisboard vs Swiftkey.
    Unfortunately none of them come close to the extremely finetuned typing experience of Swiftkey.

    I’m sticking with OpenBoard, because I can do without swipe-typing, as I hardly use my phone anymore. In all other regards (i.e. except swipe-typing), OpenBoard is superior to AnySoftKeyboard and Florisboard.

    AnySoftKeyboard needs the languages to be installed as “plugins” via apks, this means after uninstalling the app, you need to uninstall a bunch of “apps” which are just languages/keyboard layouts. The languages are all named wrongly in F-Droid and there seems to be no Bulgarian language. The actual layout of the keys (size & spacing) causes me to mistype more often than on any other keyboard.

    Florisboard is pretty neat for alpha, but it currently mixes the suggestion dictionaries for all installed languages and it’s prediction is generally bad.

  5. GoodMeasure said on June 4, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    I use Hacker’s Keyboard as well. When in landscape mode, it has the arrow keys for moving around on the screen that I am used to with a computer. Its worth a look.

  6. Need details said on June 3, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    This review is incomplete. Does this keyboard allow swiping (aka swyping) to create words?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 3, 2021 at 3:12 pm

      No it does not.

  7. Dave said on June 2, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Sending your data to someone other then google does not equal privacy. /facepalm

    1. Jrbdog said on June 7, 2021 at 1:13 pm

      Data isn’t being sent to anyone. That’s kinda the point behind F-Droid.

    2. Anonymous said on June 7, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      The data isn’t being sent to anyone. That’s the whole point of the keyboard.

  8. semce said on June 2, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    I use Hacker’s Keyboard for the simple reason I want the question mark on the top without having to flip back and forth to another set of keys. I wish I could swap the question mark with the comma on the OpenBoard, then I would use that.

  9. Bobo said on June 2, 2021 at 11:50 am

    I use Simple Keyboard. It’s a keyboard. It does what a keyboard is supposed to do, nothing more. If you can’t live without emojis as your main method of communication with others, use OpenBoard. If you find emojis to be childish, use Simple Keyboard. Both are good at what they do.

    1. Polly said on November 26, 2021 at 2:24 am

      Childish? Okay man. lol

    2. Coriy said on June 2, 2021 at 4:36 pm

      I don’t use emojis either, and I don’t like sliding as I’m clumsy on a touch screen. I just really like how simple keyboard works. It does what I need with low resource use and without telemetry. I’m using it to type this message.

  10. Anonymous Coward said on June 2, 2021 at 11:41 am

    Been using OpenBoard for a couple of months now. It’s alright, although I miss the next-word predictions offered by the stock Android keyboard. However, the privacy considerations override comfort for me.

  11. Anonymous said on June 2, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Just a small correction: the German layout is QWERTZ.

  12. Dumbledalf said on June 2, 2021 at 10:50 am

    I just installed it and will see how it goes, most likely I will be using it from now on. Thanks.

  13. Ray said on June 2, 2021 at 1:08 am

    Florisboard and AnySoftKeyboard are the only FOSS keyboards that have swipe typing, although both still need further improvements to match Gboard’s.

    If you don’t need swipe typing, Simple Keyboard is a pretty good FOSS option as well.

    1. Angi said on November 15, 2021 at 3:00 am

      Can anyone tell me how to turn off visible lettering. Visible during passwords.;@

  14. Yash said on June 1, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    I used AOSP keyboard until February(no internet permissions present in that app by the way), then Simple Keyboard from F-Droid. Unfortunately it doesn’t even have emoji support so switched to Openboard three weeks ago and SO FAR SO GOOD. Less customisable than Simple Keyboard and takes more storage space but has emoji support and performance wise better than Simple Keyboard.

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