There’s a real lack of text expansion apps for Android, but we found that Textspansion for Android gets the job done nicely, especially if you’re not willing to install an entire keyboard replacement just to get text expansion.
- Allows you to create your own database of custom phrases and the short names that expand into them
- Allows you to continue using your favourite Android keyboard without replacing it
- Smart snippets allow you to insert variables like today’s date and time
- Turns your search button into a key to your custom database, where you can select a substitution to add to the clipboard and paste into the last app you were using
- Lets you export all of your substitutions as an XML file to the SD card and take them to new or alternative Android devices
Textspansion is essentially the only real text expansion app for Android. The app’s developers will be the first to tell you that due to limitations in the way Android handles keyboard software, they can’t just tie right into your existing Android keyboard so you can type in any app and have the app kick in and substitute the text you’d like. Still, the app is very good at returning you to the last application you were using once you press the search key an select a substitution (which automatically copies it to your clipboard.) If you’re not interested in installing a replacement keyboard just to have text expansion, Textspansion is your best bet.
Textspansion’s biggest drawback is that it doesn’t kick right in as soon as you type a short phrase. You’ll have to press the Search hardware button to bring up your substitution list; leaving the app you’re in. The fact that Textspansion allows you to continue using your favourite Android keyboard is a strength, but it’s also a weakness, since you don’t have direct, in-app access to your list of expansions.
Frankly, there isn’t much in the way of direct competition to Textspansion. If you don’t like the added hassle of pressing search and selecting your substitution, your only real option is to install an alternative keyboard that supports text expansion natively. The problem is that most of the alternative keyboards that support text expansion either aren’t very good or their expansion support is lacklustre.
Regardless, SlideIT, ($6) an alternative keyboard for Android devices and tablets that looks and feels a bit like Swype, allows you to customise some shortcuts to expand into text, as does Smart Keyboard Pro, ($3) a multitouch, predictive keyboard that implements text expansion well, but is missing a lot of great features from our favourite alternative keyboards for Android. Still, if you’re willing to replace your keyboard just to have text expansion, Smart Keyboard Pro is a good option.
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