In the run up to the release of iOS 8, one of the most exciting aspects of the new software was Apple’s relaxation of certain APIs – notably the keyboard one. And the reason this was so exciting? Simple: you could install any keyboard you wanted on your iPhone or iPad, rather than using Apple’s stock effort, just as you can on Android.
And on Android, they’re all pretty damn good in their own unique ways. SwiftKey was always my go-to keyboard, but I also used Swype and Fleksy quite a bit too. On iOS, though, things are dramatically different and not in a good way, which is why I just deleted SwiftKey, Fleksy and Swype off my iPhone and have reverted back to Apple’s stock keyboard.
If you haven’t yet tried out third-party keyboards on iOS, there are a few things you need to know before you go dropping £0.69 on one. First, you cannot use a third-party keyboard in certain iOS applications, meaning you constantly have to switch between SwiftKey, for instance, and Apple’s stock keyboard. Apple says this is for security.
Second, ALL the third-party keyboards I’ve tested are buggy as hell. They crash. They refuse to acknowledge your keystrokes. And sometimes they just don’t open at all. The first instance is excusable, as there’s nothing third-party developers can do with Apple’s security blanket. But the second is a bit less forgivable: a keyboard is a core element of a phone, it cannot be buggy and refuse to open on a regular basis otherwise people –– i.e. me –– will simply stop using it.
But the REALLY annoying thing is the constant switching you have to do to use your preferred choice of keyboard. Even when you set SwiftKey as your de facto keyboard in all applications outside the core ones Apple locks it out of, you still see the stock Apple keyboard ALL THE TIME, meaning you have to then go into keyboard settings and reselect SwiftKey once again. Yep, it’s LONG.
You can improve things, however, by moving your preferred keyboard, say, SwiftKey, to the top of the “keyboard list” in Settings, which should mean you get that keyboard 90% of the time (technically). But even with this in place I still found myself being asked to use the stock Apple keyboard way too often, which kind of makes the whole purpose of user-selected keyboards moribund.
In the end, I just accepted defeat, deleted them and turned myself over to Apple’s stock keyboard full time. It's slower and no where near as good as SwiftKey for Android but at least it is consistant. I don't see how anyone could use third-party keyboards for a long period of time on iOS without getting frustrated, especially if you're coming over from Android where they all work seamlessly.