iOS 8 has a host of brand new features that are going to really make the iPhone a much more superior device. However, one of the most important features that comes with the new operating system is finally – finally! – the ability to use custom keyboards. Your liberation from Apple’s terrible keyboard is here everyone; rejoice! Apple’s tepid keyboard is made elementary by some of the more easy to use, and better functioning keyboards listed below. But, first, let’s go over how to add a new keyboard to your device.
In order to add a new keyboard, you’re going to have to download and install the individual keyboard application. Once you’ve done that, navigate to your keyboard preferences inside of your iPhone’s Settings application and add the keyboard to your list of available input methods. It’ll be added right next to the list that shows your keyboard language as English (US) and Emoji. Then, when you’re typing pretty much anything on your iPhone – email, text message, tweet, status update, etc. – you’ll be able to access the new alternative input method by tapping on the little globe icon next to the spacebar on the left.
SwiftKey and Swype
SwiftKey and Swype are adding iOS compatible platforms for the highly popular Android keyboards (free, $1). The two keyboard styles are similar at their core, but frankly their difference is really a matter of taste. They’re both based on a swiping input method; all you have to do is put your finger down on the keyboard and drag from letter to letter until the keyboard’s input algorithm figures out what word you’re trying to spell. As one who uses this keyboard regularly on my Droid, I have to say that I really enjoy it, and it pretty accurately (about 90%) inputs the word that I’m trying to type. Even if you slide sloppily, it generally works with around the same success rate.
The predictive tech is supplemented by a learning algorithm that analyzes your style from your inputs on the keyboard over time, as well as from what you type in to Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The keyboard also functionally allows you to type your words out as well, if that’s more your thing, and it also records your habits in the same manner.
Fleksy is a keyboard that I don’t have much experience with. However, if you are a terrible speller, Fleksy is apparently a God-send. For any time that you’re in a hurry or typing on the move, the autocorrect feature is incredibly accurate, and can translate even the most haphazardly typed words. The application also responds to gestures, and you can make the application run faster that way. If you don’t like the first autocorrect suggestions Fleksy provides, you can swipe through other suggestions until you find the right one. If you don’t like any of the suggestions provided to you, you can actually swipe from left to right across the screen, which acts essentially as a giant delete button. The application costs $1.
TextExpander will be introducing a keyboard application that makes typing out all of those long and tedious things you type all the time that much easier. TextExpander already exists as a popular desktop utility that is able to turn shortcut phrases into more long-form writing.
TextExpander already exists as an iPhone application, but because of Apple’s sandbox, you couldn’t use it to expand snippets in other apps unless you implemented the SDK. Thanks to iOS 8’s Extensions feature, your snippets can finally be used anywhere on your phone. The keyboard just went live with the latest TextExpander update ($5).
Before PopKey, the only way to text a reaction GIF to a friend or a group chat was to hunt for one in your image library. That, or go into your browser and save a GIF image into your library, and then go into your library, and share it into your chat. That takes a lot of time! Luckily, you don’t have to do that anymore…assuming sending reaction GIFs to your friends is one of your more primary concerns. PopKey comes with a library of thousands of GIFs that express just about any type of reaction that you might need. Though PopKey isn’t live yet, it will be in the near future.