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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I really hate the on-screen keyboard on my smartphone. My fingers don't always hit the right keys and there's no cursor to go back and correct my mistakes. What can I do?

A. Many of the apps (applications) which come with a stock smartphone haven't been very well designed. They sometimes appear to have been included as an after-thought just to get the product out the door. However, you do have choices for replacement apps and many of them are absolutely free.

Your keyboard problem can easily be addressed by simply going to your appropriate app store and downloading a different keyboard app for your phone. There are many available - some are free, some include ads and others may collect a small charge to reimburse the developer for his efforts. Even the pay ones are usually "free-to-try", so don't be afraid to investigate all those that interest you to see which one meets your needs.

The keyboard apps are small software programs which are substituted in place of your existing keyboard. Many include cursors, keyboard customization and features simply not available on the stock keyboard. I suggest that you search online for smartphone keyboards prior to going to your store where it may be more difficult to obtain information as to the apps' features and perceived defects.

The customization of your phone doesn't have to stop with a keyboard substitution. With millions of apps available online, you might want to change other so-called "features" of your phone that annoy you or just don't work the way you want them to. There are apps available for almost any conceivable purpose although the most common ones are keyboards, email, browsing and contact management. However, the list goes on almost endlessly and if one special app doesn't currently exist, you can bet that someone will develop it in the near future.

You should feel free to try out all the different apps that appeal to you. If one doesn't work in your situation, uninstall it and try another. Just remember: you're not locked into a particular app just because it came with your smartphone.

Published: Courier 5/4/14 - Page 4C