The iPhone’s auto-correct function is a source of endless entertainment and frustration for iOS users. Although most user probably don’t stop and think about it, Apple’s keyboard is, in part, to blame for all this infamous comedy of errors. If you’re an Android user, or you know someone who is, you know that the keyboard that comes preinstalled on your device isn’t the only option out there.
For years, Swype, SwiftKey, Fleksy, Multiling, and more have taken over millions of Android smartphones as the default keyboard. Meanwhile, iOS users have sat back, dejectedly looking at all their friends’ cool keyboards. Now all that is about to change.
Updated on 11-24-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added new keyboard called DrawType that lets you draw images and send them.
On June 2, Apple announced that iOS 8 will support third-party keyboard apps for the first time. The company showed off a new QuickType keyboard that looks a lot like the one from SwiftKey and actually stated that one of the keyboard apps that will arrive on iOS 8 is Swype.
Now that iOS 8 is here, many popular keyboard apps are available for users to download or coming soon. Here’s a full list.
Sometimes emoji, GIFs, and text just don’t communicate your message as effectively as you’d like. For those moments when only hand-drawn messages will do, there’s DrawType, a new keyboard app for iOS that lets you draw anything you want and send it as a picture in your favorite messaging app. It also has it’s own keyboard for normal typing.
All you have to do is download it, give DrawType keyboard access to your iPhone, and draw your message. You can choose between a few different colors; there’s a back button for when you make mistakes; and you can start over new at any time. Once you’re satisfied with your picture, tap the button with an arrow pointing up, and you can either copy it and paste it into the message field, or save to to your Camera Roll. If you copy and paste, your drawing will send as an image file.
It worked in both WhatsApp and iMessages when I tested it out. Your creations may look like the sort of thing you used to make in Microsoft paint back in your childhood, but it’s decidedly fun to use. DrawType only costs $1 and you can download it from the App Store.
Ever wish you could talk to someone in their native language even if you don’t speak it? Well, now there’s a keyboard app for that. Slated is an alternative keyboard that automatically translates whatever you type into another language. The app currently supports 80 languages, including German, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew, Hindi, and many more.
The app works with the regular SMS, iMessage, WeChat, KakaoTalk, Kik, WhatsApp, Line, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Skype, and other messaging apps. You can also use it to translate passages of text from one language to another.
Since I actually speak German and Spanish, I tested it out to see how accurate it was. Slated does an amazing job translating simple phrases instantly. Like any translation app, it has difficulties with colloquialisms and complex sentences, but even when the syntax was wrong, it was still possible to understand the translation. Slated is currently available on the iOS App Store for $5, so it’s a tad expensive. Still, if you need to translate text a lot, it’s a good purchase.
The Phraseboard keyboard lets you choose from a list of commonly used phrases and set your own. Phraseboard offers phrases for almost every kind of conversation, whether it be with personal friends, colleagues from work, or your family. The keyboard’s mission is to help you send typical responses to messages without having to type the same response over and over again. It’s available as a free download in the App Store.
PopKey Animated GIF
Animated GIF keyboard PopKey finally arrived in the App Store for all to download. This keyboard app lets you add animated GIFs to your conversations. You can upload your own, search through popular ones, or looks for GIFs based on theme. Best of all, it’s free. We tried it out and it worked seamlessly in the iOS Messages app, but only produced a still image on WhatsApp. Of course, we expect to see updates from PopKey in the near future, so that might change.
Not sure how to express yourself in any other way? Say it with a GIF. Thanks to Riffsy, there’s now a keyboard app for iOS 8 users that lets you communicate only in GIFs. The GIF Keyboard lets you search through millions of animated GIFs, some with music, and some without. The GIFs are separated into categories for those of you who don’t have a particular one in mind.
You can copy and send the GIFs directly in Apple’s Mail and Message apps, but you can also send links to the GIF of your choosing as a link in WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other apps. You can use the GIF Keyboard alongside all the other keyboards mentioned below. The app is free on the App Store.
Swype allows you to type with one hand, using a swipe motion to hit the keys you need. For those of you who’ve never tried this kind of keyboard, it’s easier than it sounds. Swype also has sync and backup functions, so you never lose your words when you move from device to device. The app currently has 250 million users and it should get more now that it’s available on the iOS App Store. It currently costs $1 and supports English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish right now.
“We’re super excited to have Swype come to iOS users,”Aaron Sheedy, Swype vice president of product marketing, told Digital Trends back in June. “It’s been one of our goals for a long, long time.”
Swype Keyboard on Android
Swype has been available on Android, Windows Phone, and other mobile OSs for some time now. Although Sheedy couldn’t comment on the exact path Swype took to forge its partnership with Apple, he did say that he thinks it’s a great opportunity for the company. He also praised the keyboard’s millions of users, whom he believes created the demand for Apple to change its policy on third-party keyboards.
“It’s the power of people wanting to enter those words the way they want to,” Sheedy said. “Swype has reinvented the way we type.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to bring all the great features on Swype to iOS,” he added.
Swype has what Sheedy calls a “sub-geek domain of keyboard-loving engineers” working on optimizing Swype for iOS 8. One of the features that Swype is most excited about bringing to iOS users is its living language function, which adds suggested and trending words to your personal dictionary automatically. The company is also very proud of its unparalleled accuracy and the 92 language models that ensure near-clairvoyant word prediction.
Swype’s algorithm can recognize “long strings of words that go together” to predict what the next word you type will be. Sheedy gave the example of seemingly unrelated words like, “I pledge allegiance,” which the algorithm understands as part of a common phrase, adding the obvious “to the flag,” at the end of the sentence for you.
Swype’s next move is to get its keyboard on everyone’s iPhone and iPad once iOS 8 is released. The company is confident that its focus on accuracy will convince iOS users to download Swype. The app’s rivals are also getting in on the new deal, though.
Right after Apple officially announced that iOS 8 will be available on September 17, SwiftKey shared a preview of its keyboard app for iOS devices. SwiftKey will bring all its users’ favorite features to iOS devices, including its multiple language support, flow swipe to type method, super smart predictions, more accurate autocorrect, and habit learning software. The app will also sync with the cloud and your Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and other accounts to learn even more about your typing habits.
Initially, multiple language support will include four versions of English, two kinds of Portuguese, Italian, German, two kinds of French, and three kinds of Spanish. The app is now available for all iOS 8 users to download on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.
SwiftKey co-founders Ben Medlock and Jon Reynolds couldn’t be more excited about Apple’s decision to open up to third-party keyboards.
“We’re delighted Apple has decided to embrace the importance of opening its platform to third party keyboards,” the co-founders said in a statement this past June. “For more than four years, SwiftKey and our millions of users have pioneered faster, easier typing on touchscreens, leading the industry with next-word prediction and smarter autocorrection. Our technology features on more than 200 million devices to date and we can’t wait to reach more. We first brought a taste of our technology to iOS in January this year with the launch of the free note-taking app SwiftKey Note. Are we going to build SwiftKey Keyboard for iOS 8? Of course we are. We’ve already started.”
Next page: 8 more hot new keyboards for iOS!
Popular mini keyboard Minuum also confirmed that it is working on app for iOS back in June. Now, the app is finally available in the App Store. It currently costs $2 and is English only at the moment. The company says it plans to add Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese-BR, Russian, Dutch, and more languages soon.
“Ever since our Indiegogo campaign, we’ve had thousands of Minuum fans on iOS waiting patiently for Apple to make a move like this, and we’re happy to say that we’re excited as they are about Apple’s decision to allow third-party keyboards!” Minuum told Digital Trends. “Our first ever Minuum prototypes were actually built for iOS, and we’re looking forward to bringing those back to life. We’ll announce more specific timelines for Minuum on iOS 8 as we approach launch date.”
Then, on the morning before iOS 8 will arrive for all to download, Fleksy announced that its keyboard will arrive on the App Store shortly after iOS 8 does. To start, Fleksy will support 40 languages including English, French , Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish, Hebrew, Dutch, and more. Fleksy added multiple themes for iOS 8, so you can personalize your typing experience. More than 800 emoji will also be included in the premium app.
As part of a launch promotion, the Fleksy keyboard app will be available for free on the App Store for all iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users with iOS 8 installed. You can download the app at www.AppStore.com/Fleksy, but it’s not available just yet.
Earlier this year, the company released a limited iOS version of its keyboard app that worked with other iOS apps. Fleksy didn’t post any statement, but it did post a short note, acknowledging the idea and asking would-be users to sign up for the beta as soon as it becomes available.
“Fleksy will be one of the first third party keyboards to be available for iOS 8!” the company wrote on its website.
Although the most popular alternative keyboard apps have captured most of the media’s attention, lesser known keyboard apps also have tentative plans to break into iOS. Multiling Keyboard told Digital Trends that it will consider making an iOS version of its app, too, depending on the difficulty of the “iOS learning curve” and other time constraints.
“I receive some requests from users occasionally,” developer Han Honso told us. “Especially from multilingual users … I’m excited because iOS is finally open its door.”
The Multiling Keyboard offers support for 130 different languages. It also has various keyboard options, a built-in calculator, and gesture typing. The developer’s main focus is Android, but iOS is definitely on the table.
Keymoji, a keyboard that specializes in turning phrases, movie titles, and other expressions into strings of emoji, is also available on the App Store. The emoji autocorrecting app is free for all the folks who think emoji are way better than actual words.
TouchPal Keyboard was one of the top 6 finalists at Techcrunch Disrupt and now it’s come to iOS 8. You can download the keyboard on the App Store right now. It features gesture/swipe input, sliding input, keyboard themes, and Emoji. TouchPal is also free.
KuaiBoard, formerly known as QuickBoard, saves all the text you type over and over again, including billing info, signatures, locations, and more. It costs $2 on the App Store.
Gifmoji is another keyboard that focuses on GIFs and emoji. The app isn’t available yet and information is scarce, but you can see a sneak peek on its website.
Updated on 11-07-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added new keyboard called Slated that translates your messages in real time to 80 different languages.
Updated on 10-20-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Phraseboard’s keyboard lets you choose from a bunch of commonly used phrases and ones you make yourself.
Updated on 09-23-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Gif Keyboard is now available on iOS 8.
Updated on 09-18-2014 by Malarie Gokey: PopKey, TextExpander, Keymoji, TouchPal Keyboard, KuaiBoard, and Gifmoji keyboard apps to arrive on iOS 8.
Updated on 09-17-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Fleksy, SwiftKey, Swype, and Minuum apps arrive in App Store.
Updated on 09-17-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Fleksy reveals more details about upcoming keyboard app for iOS 8, announces availability on launch date.
Updated on 09-11-2014 by Malarie Gokey: As the September 17 launch of iOS 8 approaches, SwiftKey and Fleksy issue previews and teasers of their iOS keyboard apps.