Perhaps the most eagerly awaited feature of iOS 8 is third-party keyboard support. Yes, Android has had this for years before iOS, but now that Apple has blessed iPhone and iPad users with the feature there’s been no shortage of third-party keyboards for iOS 8 to hit the market. We’ve gone through the lot of them and picked out some of the best.
SwiftKey has long been a favourite on Android and now it’s come to iOS – and it’s every bit as good. The real power of SwiftKey lies in its predictive text algorithms, meaning you need to type a lot less to get accurate word predictions. But another great feature is gesture typing, which allows you to insert words with just a swipe. Another killer feature is that SwiftKey has cloud support so your personal dictionaries and settings are made available across all your devices that use SwiftKey keyboards, no matter if they’re iOS or Android.
Swype is kind of similar to SwiftKey. It’s got powerful word prediction algorithms and gesture-based typing. But what I really love about Swype is its beautiful flat look and all the themes it offers. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better-looking keyboard. Another huge plus is its personal dictionary management tools. Adding a word is as simple as a swipe and removing words from your personal dictionary is just as easy.
Now we get to the really fun keyboard. GIF Keyboard – as you may have guessed – allows you to insert GIFs right into the text fields on your iPhone. Needless to say this could be pretty pointless if you are working with word processor documents, but it’s fun as hell in messaging apps. The keyboard allows you to search millions of GIFs across multiple categories. When you find one that expresses your mood, thoughts, or opinion better than words ever could simply tap it to insert it into your message.
Minuum is a unique third-party keyboard that has a feature no other keyboard has: a really tiny keyboard. At first this may seem, well, stupid because typing on a regular-sized touchscreen keyboard can be hard enough. But what Minuum actually does is give you a smaller keyboard with all the benefits of a larger one. Minuum does work in regular size, but if you want more room on your screen you can swipe the keyboard down to shrink it to about the width of an index finger. But while the keys then look extra small you can just continue to type on the screen as you would if the keyboard were full size. It’s not a keyboard for everyone, but for those that can type without looking at the keyboard and want to see more of their screen Minuum is an awesome choice.
Phraseboard is kind of like the app “Yo”, but with more options. The keyboard allows you to use pre-set or custom phrases and essentially turn each phrase into a button. Simply tap that button to send off a quick reply or comment to a friend, such as “Where are you?” The app also allows you to sort your new phrases into categories for easy navigation. Each category will become a button set that appears on the Phraseboard keyboard when you select it.
Ever wish you could just get rid of keyboard keys altogether and just write on the screen? MyScript Stack does just that. Instead of any keys you have a large touch area on the display. Start drawing letters with your finger one after the other and MyScript Stack will begin assembling them together and giving you four word predictions at the top of the writing area. Tap one to insert it into the text field of whatever app you are using. MyScript Stack isn’t for everyone, but for those who enjoy the physical act of writing instead of just tapping on keys could really enjoy this keyboard.
But lets say you just don’t like letters at all. That’s where Keymoji comes in. Keymoji is an emojis-only predictive keyboard. Start typing in words on it and in the predictive text bar above the keyboard you’ll see emojis appear for the words you are typing instead of text word predictions. Tap one to insert it. While this keyboard does also allow you to type in text, I suspect it’s not a keyboard for everyone. Fifteen year-old girls, yes. Business people, no.
Flesky is a more traditional third-party keyboard. It offers predictive text and over 800 emojis. But unlike its closest competitors – SwiftKey and Swype – its gestures are limited to punctuation and commands. For someone like me who doesn’t like dragging his finger from letter to letter across the screen to spell out a word, but DOES like gestures, Flesky is perfect. I can type my words in and then use the keyboard area of the screen for its gesture components to insert more useful stuff like spaces, periods, punctuations, and even to delete words. Because of its limited – but arguably better use – of gestures, Flesky is one of the fastest keyboards out there.