Practically in every iOS 8 review the possibility of installing third-party keyboards is mentioned. We were not the exception, but decided to move slightly further, and to prepare some special material about new apps.
The Android OS is compatible with tens of excellent and hundreds of midrange keyboards, including those, which have interface of the iOS keyboard, quite attractive, by the way. So we can be sure of their realization on the new platform in the near future.
In comparison with the native keyboard, third-party ones have some advantages: new options, inputting of the text by sliding your finger, saving the settings in the "cloud", a whole bunch of covers, and of course additional characters. Besides, the majority of the reviewed apps offer a cover in the iOS style, so that there are no visible distinctions.
It is a pity that the keyboard for iOS 7 is not created - this opportunity has appeared only in iOS 8. As soon as it happened, there were plenty of questions in the style "how to change the keyboard in iOS 8?". And you know, the answer has already been given in the appropriate material. And further we will talk about nine third-party keyboards for iOS 8. The tenth one is a native keyboard presented in the system initially. It is very important to compare their possibilities. So, let’s start.
Native iOS keyboard
To understand if it’s worth additional efforts, let’s first take a closer look at the native iOS 8 keyboard. While testing we used two languages – Russian and English, so we’ll mention necessarily about the function of language switching.
So, we have iOS-based (version 8.1) iPhone 4S. The model of the phone is not very modern, but the tested software is equal both for iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 4S. We will not complain about the small screen size (and as a consequence - an awkward use of input method swype). Almost.
Language switching (to be exact – the Russian and English keyboard) is performed by touching the image of "Globe" (hereinafter - the "Globe"). For this purpose both languages should be selected in the phone settings (Settings> General> Keyboard> Keyboard> Keyboard New> Proposed keyboards).
Additional characters on the "main" screen of the keyboard are not provided (only "e" to "¸"). To enter them you need to go to another screen by pressing the "123". On the same screen, we’ll find a comma.
A period, as we remember, can be received by double pressing of the "spacebar", if this option is on in the settings. Besides, there’s a possibility of using shortcuts. In general, the settings in the "native" keyboard are not very extensive, but soon we will see that even this set is not found in all third-party apps.
ai.type Keyboard - the best keyboard for iOS
During the preparation of the material we have noticed that the new keyboards appear almost daily. For example, ai.type. The keyboard appeared much later than TouchPal or SwiftKey, and the first application was paid. But soon the developers have changed the policy, so it is possible that the situation on the keyboard market will be absolutely different a month after our review.
So, ai.type Keyboard - our first third-side keyboard for iOS 8. At the moment of testing it offered the widest range of possibilities, so we will consider it a kind of starting point for the rest.
Seven covers are offered: standard interfaces of iOS, Android and WP, brand cover ai.type Keyboard, Cover-sketch and others. There is an opportunity to use your image as a background.
As you can see, there are lots of additional characters and a separate line for numbers. Judging from our own experience with the keyboards, we could note that the mere presence of this line predetermined the choice of the apps. But it would be too subjective.
There are many languages, including Russian. Switching between them is made by clicking the "Globe". The keyboard settings can be shown by pressing the button with a special icon.
A very useful feature is keyboard’s height adjustment, separately for portrait and landscape modes. But there’s no possibility to input the text by sliding, and this is the only omission of ai.type Keyboard. We are not fans and do not agitate for this way, but if there is demand, it should be supplied.
In general, the keyboard is quite good, and obviously claims to be the most favorite among similar apps in the App Store.
Swiftkey – iOS keyboard with swype
It is quite an attractive keyboard, but with no support of the Russian language, at least at the moment. Another minus – it provides only two covers, dark and light. No additional characters are available.
The main advantage is of course SwiftKey Flow, or swype. We could make sure that the word spelling even with several mistakes is performed correctly in most cases. Certainly, if the word is more or less widespread and included in the dictionary. Otherwise, it can be added by the user to avoid the problems with its spelling in the future.
Besides, the keyboard offers using "cloud" services SwiftKey Cloud for storing the settings and the user’s dictionary. It is convenient when using multiple devices, including various "axes".
After ai.type Keyboard’s possibilities, we’d like to try out something new, let’s see if Go Keyboard can offer it.
Let’s start with the covers. There are three of them, and the best one’s interface seems to have been copied from the native iOS. There is also a option of using your images as a background.
Period, comma and some additional characters are available. But language switching is possible only through the "tap" on a spacebar. Those who are used to a faster "Globe" may dislike this option. And swype is also not available here.
The range of settings is very limited: language selection, word-prediction, auto-capitalization, keypress sound. And the covers, of course. Overall, so far it’s difficult to name the reason why GO Keyboard could be distinguished among the others.
Touchpal – one of the best keyboards for iOS
The keyboard TouchPal, unlike the previous app, is supplied much better. It provides swype, additional characters, and various other options.
For example, here we can find the largest number of covers that we have seen. However, if you look closely, there is only one cover, and everything else - just the color options.
Let’s make a cover with the camera’s image and adjust the transparency of the buttons.
There are additional characters, plenty of "smiles". Language switching is performed by slipping on a spacebar or by a long "tap" on the "Globe. Basically, it is convenient.
It has few languages, but Russian is already available. The list of settings is short as usual.
Swype - alternative keyboard for iOS
And here is the legendary app Swype. Why is it legendary? Because thanks to its developer, the company Swype Inc., the world has another trademark Swype, which has become a common name, as once Pampers or Xerox. Swype is a combination of the words swipe and type, which became the name for method of inputting a text.
In any case, now the "swype" is used in many apps, so the founder will have to do his best to keep up with the competitors.
Traditionally let’s start with the covers. There’s no possibility of adding the user’s image, and the choice of installed ones is quite narrow.
There is a comma and a period; additional characters are available only in one keyboard – a dark one. But technically, other covers have additional characters too, you should only "tap" on the special button.
Actually, about swype. The method works in the same way as in other keyboards. "Hey where are you" can be typed with no efforts in 2-3 seconds, for more complex and rare words the dictionary is used.
The only difference we noticed is non-trivial use of swype. For example, to select some additional character, you can press the "? 123" and holding your finger, slide to the necessary character. A comma – from the button with a comma to a spacebar, everything non-stop. After some practice and memorizing the location of characters, you can achieve amazing results in the speed of typing.
Language selection is performed by a long "tap" on a spacebar. The keyboard’s settings can be accessed only from the keyboard itself – by "tap" on the company's icon and selecting "gears".
The list of settings is standard. In general, the keyboard is quite good, but it has nothing special to be distinguished among the competitors. If once it was the only one to offer “Swype”, now it doesn’t have such an advantage.
TapTap Keyboards – the simplest keyboard for iOS
We’ve run out of the loud names, so now let’s take a look at less famous keyboards. One of them is TapTap Keyboards for iOS 8. We liked availability of the Russian language and the most flexible settings of covers.
Actually, this keyboard is the simplest of all the apps, included in our review. There are no additional characters, periods or commas, or swype - nothing. Only problems with hitting the Shift key in the Russian layout.
The only thing that can attract the user – the settings of the cover. At first glance, there is nothing particular, even the option to choose your background is not available.
However, you can choose the color that can be the envy of ai.type Keyboard or Swype. However, we have not managed to establish the difference between the "colors" and "themes". Either the developer confused something, or overthought. So you can create your own design only for the classical (according to TapTap Keyboards) form of the keyboard.
In the settings among all the "likes" only keypress sound can be found. There is neither auto-capitalization, nor a period by double tapping of a spacebar, to say nothing of word prediction.
Phraseboard – keyboard-dictionary for iOS
The main idea of the app is implied by its name - using of pre-prepared phrases in the conversation. Phraseboard can’t be used as the main keyboard, its role is secondary. Actually, it is hardly possible to consider Phraseboard to be a keyboard – it’s rather a dictionary.
The point is: Phraseboard contains an editable list of categories: Personal, Family, Friends, Work and so on. In each category there are phrases that can be changed or new ones can be added.
During the conversation, if suddenly we’d like to use a pattern phrase, we switch to Phraseboard, go to the necessary category and select it. Basically, it can be convenient if you often provide your email address, Skype nickname, the number of WebMoney purse and so on. "Sorry, I'm busy, call back later" - is not the only variant of using this application.
However, iOS has its own tool - shortcuts, which can be used practically in the same way. Though it’s not so convenient, but is quite enough for a couple of phrases. However, Phraseboard, as a specialized tool, is much more functional in this respect. Other question - if it will find enough followers.
PopKey – keyboard with images for iOS
Another additional keyboard, this time with an entertaining function. It offers GIF images on different topics. Actually, why not? Especially if the chosen picture will make your interlocutor laugh.
You can download your GIFs to use them in the future. It may be not necessary, since the range of pictures on various topics in PopKey is wide enough.
However, you need an access to the Internet to use all the opportunities of the app, though a minimum set of images is available in the mode "offline"
Adaptxt - keyboard with specialized dictionaries for iOS
The developers of Adaptxt keyboard describe their product as an adaptive one. It means the following: you have access to specialized dictionaries, which will help to identify correctly the right word, when using swype typing. There are dictionaries on various topics: business, finance, sports, IT industry, medicine, and so on.
At the moment there is a lack of Russian dictionaries: only business dictionary is available for download now. The choice of developers is a bit strange of course, taking into consideration a huge number of businessmen, who try to find in App store a keyboard, suitable for making business letters to their colleagues or subordinates. However, in the near future the list of dictionaries is likely to be changed.
Two covers are provided: traditionally, a dark and a light one. Swype, auto-correction and predictive text are also available.
It is very convenient to use swype with text shortcuts. The list of shortcuts is named in the keyboard settings. Later it’s enough to slide your finger from the button "123" to the necessary key to get the text. In our opinion, it’s a wonderful solution, the main thing to remember here is the keys location.
In general, the keyboard is worth considering, though, in our opinion, at the moment it is still incomplete and calls for updating : there’s a lack of additional characters, opportunities of cover edition and naturally, dictionaries.
In general, we are not surprised. The most advanced apps are represented by well-known developers, which can make a good team for serious work on their product. These are ai.type Keyboard, Swype, TouchPal and SwiftKey. We give our preference to ai.type Keyboard, as the best-equipped keyboard, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t have swype. For those who recognize only swype typing, we recommend Swype and TouchPal.
Compared with the native keyboard, third-party apps do not differ too much. The most significant differences are in displaying additional characters and input method swype. It’s up to you to decide whether you need it or not.
A very useful option of keyboard’s resizing is available in ai.Keyboard, although this possibility is most relevant mainly for tablets, or at least for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As for the covers, this advantage is doubtful, because each new keyboard copies the native interface, which is rather good, as we’ve already mentioned.
Additional keyboards are also interesting, but their application scripts are limited and will suit not every user.