When Apple finally stopped acting like an overprotective parent and introduced third-party keyboards, everyone went keyboard-crazy. Now instead of just your plain vanilla Apple keyboard, you have the likes of Swype and Swiftkey to make typing messaging and typing as easy as possible.
The key to being Instagram King is apparently tags, the same way that hashtags will make you the Twitter Emperor. But when you are busy Instagramming, who has the time or the inclination to type out all those tags? And who can remember all the ones you need? Fear not: you can now ensure that the picture of your breakfast with the classy filter can now be found, by selecting suitable hashtags with Tagsdock.
Click on the category that your photo falls under, and the appropriate tags will pop up. Then it is simply a matter of tapping on the ones you want, and like magic the tags will appear next to your photo, ready to send.
In the first 10 minutes of using this keyboard I got seven new followers, so it seems this tagging thingie works.
There are two groups of texters and chatters out there – those that love and embrace emoji, and those that dislike it. I am in the latter group, while my wife is a huge fan of it. I pride myself on being able to type fast – stopping to find the appropriate smiley face just slows me down and breaks my flow.
Roxie Visual could make that process so much easier for me. Whenever you type something, Roxie scans the words to see if there are any appropriate emoji to go with it. So if I wrote “I fancy pizza for dinner”, Roxie Visual will pop up with pizza emoji. Just tap on the one you want, and it will be inserted into the chat for you.
You get a red keyboard too. I just love the color, so this one is a definite keeper on my phone.
One of the things I find really irritating about the standard iOS keyboard is that the numbers are on a totally separate page, and other symbols are on a third page. You have to tap a button to toggle between them, and when you are in the heat of typing fast, having to switch keyboards to find and type a number or a symbol can be annoying.
Padkeys levels the playing field by taking advantage of the iPad’s big screen. It brings the numbers onto the same keyboard as the letters, making it just like a standard keyboard. Now when you are typing away, you can type letters and numbers without having to toggle keyboards. I really love this keyboard and it has now become the default on my iPad.
The only downside is that it designed solely for the iPad, probably because the iPhone’s screen is just too small.
Thingthing is an interesting concept. It enables you to attach various web services to your keyboard, and then link to those files in a chat or text message.
So for example, if you wanted to show the other chatter a picture in your Facebook account, it’s simply a matter of making sure that your Facebook account is attached. Then press the “f” icon at the bottom, and scroll to find the desired picture. Tap on it and it will be inserted into the chat.
What some people may not like about this keyboard is that you have to provide access permissions to your web accounts. Giving a keyboard this much access may make some people wary, but for others this keyboard could make your iPhone a lot more productive.
The Thumbly website claims that Thumbly is “made for the way you hold your phone.” The idea here is that you hold your phone with one hand, and the keys are arranged in a way that facilitates one-handed thumb typing. The keyboard also comes with auto-complete.
Maybe it was due to my big fingers but I found Thumbly a bit difficult to use. My thumb kept hitting the wrong button and slowing down my typing speed considerably. However, someone with smaller fingers will probably find this keyboard nicer and easier to use than I did, and the longer you use it the better you will get.
The developer told me in an email that the keyboard is about to get a big upgrade.
Thumbly is actually on the cusp of a major change which I hope will make it more enjoyable for people to use. Basically the Delete, Return, and Shift keys will disappear and be replaced by swipe gestures. This allows the individual keys to be bigger, making them easier to hit.
So maybe there is hope for me and my big thumbs yet.
Phraseboard is suitable for texters who find themselves saying the same things over and over again. There are standard phrases already pre-programmed, and you can add your own as well. You can categorize these phrases so you find them easily. Just find the phrase you want, tap on it, and see it pop up on the screen, ready to send.
The website states that in order to insert your own phrases, you need to enable “open access” in the iOS keyboard settings. I will briefly be talking about this at the end of this article.
Who remembers playing hangman as a child? It was the ultimate simple game, and could be played virtually anywhere. All that was required was a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and an impressive grasp of your native language (with a few foreign-sounding made-up words thrown in for good measure). A simpler time, before games consoles and the Internet.
But now Hangman has made its way into an iOS keyboard, called Hangkeys. Both sides must have the Hangkeys keyboard installed to play, and the person initiating the game sets the word. Assuming the other person has set the word, you then tap keys on the keyboard. If you’re right, the word starts to form. If not, well… we all know what happens, don’t we?
Remember kids: everytime you lose a game of hangman, a stick family is left without a father. Something to think about there.
Here’s one which made my wife and her girlfriends laugh at first, before they passed the sick bucket around. Yes, it is the automatic flirting one-liner generator. Some are old, many are corny, most will make you groan, some will get a drink thrown in your face (a free drink!) but a few (like the one above) will make you laugh out loud.
If you can make the other person laugh too, then you have won half the battle.
This keyboard is one for the true Klingon who relishes the glory of battle, and thinks today is a good day to die! The big downside to this keyboard though is that there is no English-Klingon translation, so the keys are in Klingon, as well as the text.
If you or your recipient don’t understand the warrior’s language, then this is just a fun keyboard to have installed on your phone. Then again, if you don’t know Klingon, then you seriously need to recheck your geek Trekkie credentials.
However, if you would like to learn Klingon, Duolingo is preparing to bring out a course. Then all you need is the surgery to get the crinkly forehead, and you’ll be all Worf.
So How Do I Install One Of These Keyboards?
If any of these keyboards have struck your fancy and you have downloaded one or more of them, here is how to activate them.
Go to the iOS Settings and then General > Keyboard > Keyboards. You will then see a list of all your currently installed and activated keyboards.
Tap on Add New Keyboard to be taken to the installed ones not yet activated.
Scroll down to Third Party Keyboards to see the ones not yet activated. Tap on the one you want and you will be brought back to the keyboards list.
You’ll see the one you just tapped at the bottom of the list. If there are any keyboards there that you don’t want anymore, simply tap Edit in the top right hand corner, and tap the red circle to the left of the keyboard name to reveal the Delete button.
When typing your messages, you can toggle different keyboards by using the circular globe-like icon on the keyboard. You can change the order in which keyboards appear by holding your finger down on the three horizontal lines, and moving up and down.
Last of all, you need to Allow Full Access. You get to this option by tapping the horizontal arrow to the right of the keyboard name. Turn the option on.
You will be presented with a warning message. To use advanced features like custom phrases, your own dictionary and have apps like Roxie (above) work correnty, you must tap Allow. Once you’ve done that, you’re all ready to go.
Which iOS Keyboards Do You Use?
There are so many options now with regards to keyboards that it is entirely possible I missed your favorite out. So tell us in the comments why it deserves to be considered.