After downloading a keyboard app, you will need to enable it on your device by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard. For most keyboards you will need to enable Allow Full Access, which gives the app access to all of the data that you type on your device.
After a keyboard is installed, tap and hold the globe icon in Apple’s default keyboard, and then select one of the enabled keyboards.
If you want to spruce up your instant messages, Riffsy’s GIF keyboard provides a fun way of doing so. This keyboard allows you to search and select from over a million GIFs and videos that can be copied and pasted into iMessage, the text messages app, WhatsApp, Twitter, Messenger, the photo sharing app, SnapChat, and the Mail app.
Note that in the add new keyboard settings, the app is named “Riffsy Keyboard”, instead of “GIF Keyboard” or similar.
You can press and hold on a GIF and save it to one of your custom folders for later use. And yes, GIF Keyboard also includes a keyboard (tap on the Aa button) so you don’t have to switch to another keyboard to type actual words.
Even if you prefer using an advanced, quick swipe keyboard, you might like sprucing up your messages with a different style of font, which is exactly what Better Fonts provides. Its pro version, $4.99, provides up to 115 fonts to choose from, including emojis, upside down text, bubble letters, many more.
Open the Better Fonts app to preview the free and pro options. The app itself also includes a notepad for typing and copying text.
If you fancy changing the color theme of your keyboard like changing your clothes, BrightKey makes that possible. The free version of the app includes five vibrant colors to choose from, and eight other themes (3 metals and 5 woods) for purchase.
But BrightKey has two other awesome features. Swipe up from its spacebar and it reveals a set of snippet messages you can quickly paste into a text box. Plus, while long-pressing on the space bar, you can slide the cursor between characters. These two functions could be highly useful on any third-party keyboard.
Ginger Keyboard is more than a keyboard. It was developed for those who want to build and perfect their English writing skills. Similar to Apple’s default keyboard, Ginger also includes predictive words, and auto-correction and auto-capitalization. But to make full use of the app, you need to sign up on the Ginger website, which can be done through the app itself.
Registration provides access to Ginger’s proofreading, dictionary, suggested grammar corrections, language translations, and other contextual synonym and definition tools. After tapping the “G” icon, your typed or selected text will be copied and analyzed on Ginger’s online application where it will make suggestions for corrections in your text, or for translating it to another language. It also includes a text-to-voice reader.
The online site, which can be opened from the keyboard, also includes fifteen keyboard themes to choose from, and it even allows for creating new themes. The site provides handy tutorials for getting the most out of the app.
More Than Enough
There are many replacement iOS 8 keyboards to choose from. Unfortunately, no single keyboard has all the features we would like, but switching between keyboards is relatively easy. Here’s a tip: in the keyboard Settings, arrange third-party keyboards starting with your favorite one at the top. When you switch between keyboards, the one at the top will show up first.
You should also remove any you don’t use, as they’re bound to just get in the way and frustrate you when you accidentally enable them.
Let us know which third-party keyboards you have used in the comments below.
What features would you like to see in a replacement iOS keyboard?