Later today, Apple will release the latest version of its mobile operating system: iOS 8. Amongst the changes in the updated software is the introduction of third-party keyboards, something that Android users have been enjoying since 2007.
Apple triumphantly declares on its website that "iOS 8 brings the biggest changes to the keyboard since the very ﬁrst iPhone." Now, developers can create alternate keyboards for the iPhone and iPad, meaning that users aren't stuck with the default Apple keyboard. We've listed a few of them here, and linked to pages that will help you download them in the App Store.
To kick things off, Apple even created a new keyboard of its own.
The only official alternative keyboard comes from Apple itself, and it uses predictive text to guess what you're typing, as you type it. There's no need to download a new app for QuickType, instead it will come bundled with iOS 8.
The QuickType keyboard displays three predictions for what you're going to type next above the letter keys. According to Apple, QuickType suggests different words depending on who you're talking to. For example, if you're emailing a co-worker, then it will use more formal language. But if you're sending a text message to your wife, then it will suggest casual phrases.
Swype is one of the most popular Android keyboards, and now it's available on the iPhone. To use Swype, you swipe your finger quickly across the keys instead of typing normally. To type "test," you'd swipe from the "t" key along to the "e," down to the "s," and then finally bring your finger back up to the "t." It takes some getting used to, but typing using Swype is often faster than using standard keyboards.
SwiftKey is another popular Android keyboard making its way to iOS today. It mixes the prediction software of Apple's new QuickType keyboard with the swiping technique used in Swype. But SwiftKey's party trick is SwiftKey Cloud, a service that analyses your emails, contacts, Gmail, Twitter and Facebook to find which words you're most likely to use.
SwiftKey is completely free on iOS, although the Android version of the keyboard features premium keyboard designs that can be purchased. It's currently unclear whether a similar system will arrive on iOS.
Once you've tried Swype for a few weeks, you might begin to fall in love with swiping to make words. But what if you like it so much that you want to swipe to write entire sentences? TouchPal lets you keep your finger on the keyboard as you craft full messages, claiming to help you write 120 words per minute.
This keyboard might look pretty, but it's also a rival to the "swipe"-style keyboards listed above. See, Fleksy possesses a world record for the fastest text message typed using a touchscreen after Brazilian teenager Marcel Fernandes Filho typed a complex message in 18.19 seconds using a Fleksy keyboard.
Fleksy claims to know where you meant to type, instead of where you actually did type, in order to provide the most accurate representation of your message.
Do you ever find your phone's keyboard getting in the way of what you're trying to look at? The standard keyboard does take up nearly half the screen, after all. Minuum claims to solve this problem by offering both a full-sized keyboard and a tiny, reduced-size version. The company has also developed autocorrect technology that can tell what you're trying to type on the small, one-line version of its keyboard.
While the rest of the iPhone keyboard apps showcased here are about helping you type messages quicker, PopKey is all about injecting some fun into them. As well as a normal keyboard, PopKey comes complete with an in-built GIF search engine that suggests animated images for phrases such as "LOL" and "WTF."