One of the first keyboard replacements for Android I ever used was Better Keyboard. I intially loved it because the keys were slightly bigger, but since then they’ve gone through 7 major releases including adding multitouch chording and other improvements. It excels at word correction, and optimised code has made for hardly a hint of lag anymore.
A great thing that Better Keyboard brought to the table was keyboard skins. A key draw card for Android has always been customisation and being able to theme your keyboard meant that better looks and functionality was in the hands of the user.
Most of the keyboard skins available at first were average at best. They were clearly quickly designed “factory style”, with little love, no attention to detail and a blurry finished product.
Then along came Clark and Justin from Android and Me Labs with the still amazing Oil Slick skin. It was the first skin that showed real flair, a considered eye for usability and love in the design (like great colour harmonies, and a cool icon).
Years later (literally), Oil Slick inspired me to start making my own skins, as the general quality of keyboard skins across the market has long remained at a very low level.
In March 2011 I scoured the net for tutorials and found next to nothing, except a years old Eclipse Project Demo from Better Android. With that as my starting point I had to piece together the extra things, like learning about the importance of patch9 files, reverse engineering the alt-keys XML, and adding a custom layout to the skin app itself.
In late 2011 my skins had been downloaded over 500,000 times, with an average rating of 4.5 stars. I pride myself on quality and testing to ensure every pixel counts… unlike the blurry skins you would all be used to – ’til now! Compare them yourself.