I started learning Japanese last year and in order to practice our reading and grammar skills, our class decided to have a chat group. Due to that, I downloaded a few free Japanese keyboards to use for my Android phone. I downloaded these three keyboards and here are the comparisons.
1. Google Japanese Input
This was the first keyboard I downloaded since I thought that since this is an Android phone, I assumed that Google would’ve created a keyboard which is suitable for its OS. However, I honestly thought it was quite tedious to use. In order to use all one character, you need to slide from the first character in its “group” to select the others. For example, in order to choose Hiragana ” い” you need to press ” あ” and then slide to the top to select it. This is really tedious especially when you want to type fast and you need to wait for the app to process what you selected.
This keyboard is arranged in a different way. Frankly, I would prefer if it was more of a “QWERTY” type of keyboard where everything is there for you to see. However, this keyboard was probably made for those who are more used to using the old school numerical keyboards like how you would find in Japan.
In order for you to choose Katagana or Kanji characters, you would first need to key in the Hiragana, then choose from the bar above the keyboard which character you want. This too is rather tedious. Sometimes you have to minimize the keyboard in order to find which character you want to input and select that to replace it.
There is also an English keyboard embedded in this Japanese keyboard in case you don’t want to keep changing keyboards. But be warned, the English keyboard here isn’t a full QWERTY keyboard.
Hence, I think this keyboard is not suitable for me, and especially beginners in Japanese language typing. However, I love the fact that there are preset Japanese-styled emotes in this keyboard which makes chatting much more personal. When I say emotes, I mean things like (=^･^=) or ヽ(#`Д´)ﾉ or (・｀ω´・). かわいいですね
2. Very Easy Japanese Keyboard
This keyboard would be more suitable to those who prefer a fuller keyboard. You can also easily select either Hiragana or Katagana characters with the “Hira” or “Kata” buttons. By pressing the “Hira” button again, you would basically be clicking “Next” in order to see more Hiragana characters. Much, much easier and faster to type. If you want to add in between characters, there is also 2 arrow buttons to move the cursor back or front to insert another character.
In addition, there is also a special keys for lower case characters when you need to type “kyo” (きょ) where the character “よ” is smaller than the first character of “き“. In other words, there is a separate key for the larger “よ” and the smaller “よ“. These applies for Katagana as well.
Just like many other Japanese keyboards, this keyboard has an English keyboard included and thank goodness, it is a full QWERTY. You just need to select the “ABC” key to get to it. However, in order to get back to the Japanese keyboard, you need to press “123” in the English keyboard to see the selection key for “Hira” keyboard.
The only biggest flaw in this keyboard – it does not have Kanji characters. I’ve tried many ways of putting Hiragana and Katagana characters together in order to get a Kanji word, but alas, there isn’t any. So unless you really can live with just using Hiragana and Katagana, then this keyboard is OK.
3. IQQI – Japanese Keyboard
Out of all these 3, this is currently my choice. You can easily choose Hiragana or Katagana by pressing “ひら” or “カタ” key. Surprisingly, they managed to fit all the main characters in just one page. However, to change characters like “は” to “ば“, all you need to do is press the “は” key followed by “变换” key. You can also change to Kanji characters by pressing that same key and a list above the keyboard will appear allowing you to select which character you want. You browse through the list by pressing the back and front arrow on both ends of the list. Easy-peasy.
To access the English keyboard, you just press on the globe icon; press it again and you go back to the Japanese keyboard. Same for numbers, you just need to press the “12#” key to get to it, and press “Back” to return to Japanese keyboard.
So far, this is the easiest to use Japanese keyboard amongst these three. The only drawback is you need to figure out which key changes what, but the learning curve isn’t very steep.
Another awesome feature of this keyboard – you can swipe to change keyboards from 50 keys, to 12 keys, and to Romaji keyboard. Romaji makes things much easier since it is faster to type alphabets especially when you are not first and foremost Japanese language experts.