For Swiftkey users who love emoji, they can now rejoice. The popular keyboard app has added native emoji support for android 4.1 and up and it's free while it's in beta.
The app can be downloaded directly from Swiftkey here. Please keep in mind that this is an app from outside the Google play store so make sure to have your "unknown sources" activated to install.
Highlights for this update include more than just emoji as you now have the option to have a separate row of number keys on the top row of your keyboard. In my test, the emoji key does not appear in all apps with instagram being one surprising example. Those with any android OS prior to 4.4 kit kat will have black and white emoji due to how the OS handles that particular library. Kit Kat users will continue to see color emoji as they are natively written into the OS.
In use the app felt smooth and responsive on my Galaxy Note 2 running android 4.3. Swiping or typing was responsive and as accurate and my big fingers allowed it to be. Switching between the different keyboard screens was also snappy and worked very well for a beta app.
For users of Google keyboard on Android 4.3 and under, you will notice that swiftkey has far more emoji available under the smiley key. If that is your deciding factor then swiftkey wins hands down. This being Android however, there is no reason that you cannot have both installed with the option to switch whenever either one suits your needs.
With iOS users long having enjoyed tons of Emojis among themselves, now Android users have yet another easy option to join in on the fun. For those that only want emoji in their texting app, then hangouts has a built in emoji key. Those who prefer diversity among different apps now have swiftkey as another option in their arsenal.
My prior article (with more options) on this topic can be found here.