i only have a latin keyboard. can i change this to cyrillic?
Yes. Download/equip it on your device. Easy :D
Before you do, I'd suggest having a pic of the layout of the Russian keyboard & also, maybe make sure you know how to get to the settings & change it back without having English if anything goes wrong... (personal experience with my Spanish keyboard.)
I was thinking about switching my default layout to phonetic, but read this post. I don't understand why it 'makes more sense on a phone or tablet.'? I am starting to get used to the keyboard layout, but sometimes I accidentally hit 'return' instead of 'э' in the middle of the sentence and Doulingo gives me a big Wrong Answer!
I recommend you add other languages to windows and use the on screen keyboard when the different language is needed otherwise you need to know the layout of the keyboard for each language you use.
I use Windows 10 and installed the Russian Mnemonic keyboard, which enables me to type Cyrillic using my Latin keyboard, switching between the two with (Windows-key) + (SpaceBar). Detailed instructions: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/27236556
I prefer the Mnemonic keyboard over the standard Russian keyboard, because the Mnemonic keyboard uses similar letters on the Latin keyboard that correspond to Cyrillic letters, so that for the majority of Cyrillic letters you just enter the English equivalent: д = d, ш = w, и = i, for instance. Some are phonetic: Russian х = English h, because Russian x is phonetically closest to English h: хорошо. And there are some which don't have English equivalents: ж = x, and then there are some two-key combinations to get uniquely Russian letters: щ = s+c; э = j + e; ю = j + u; ё = j +o.
Some comments suggest learning the standard Russian keyboard, but for me the Mnemonic was a much easier transition. There are several two-key combinations you have to use