One of the things I absolutely hate about using Google Android tablets right now is the keyboard. It was designed for 3 to 4 inch displays, not 7 to 10 inch screens, and when you stretch out the keyboard (especially in landscape mode), it becomes very difficult to use with two thumbs. The Apple iPad doesn’t have this problem, because the company tweaked the iOS keyboard before launching the iPad. Google isn’t expected to do something similar with Android until Android 3.0 Honeycomb is released in a few months.

Fortunately, one of the things that makes Android special is the fact that you can customize or replace almost any element of the operating system — including the keyboard. The Samsung Galaxy Tab, for instance, already ships with the Swype keyboard which works much better on large screens than the standard Android keyboard. And now the folks behind the SwiftKey keyboard for Android are starting to show off a new tablet-friendly application as well.

The app is still a prototype for now, but Engadget spent a little hands-on time with SwiftKey on a Galaxy Tab. It has a split-screen layout, with letter keys on the left and right and a number pad in the center. The keys are the right size for your thumb or fingertip and the keys don’t look stretched at all. In portrait mode the dedicated number pad disappears and instead you can tap-and-hold the top row of keys to bring up numbers.

You can check out a video after the break.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...