Android users are already familiar with the power of keyboard apps that let you swap out the standard layout for options that offer smarter predictions, more customization options and other goodies. Now that capability is finally coming to iOS. Apple is opening up iOS 8 to third-party keyboards, which means you’ll be able to enjoy gesture typing, more languages and context-aware suggestions to superpower your mobile productivity. Here are the best keyboards already available or hitting the iPhone and iPad soon.
Already available in the app store, Fleksy’s unique gesture system lets you swipe to input punctuation, spaces or break into next lines and more. Multiple layout modes let you see more of your screen, and we love the cool invisible keyboard that lets you type over pictures and keep your eyes off your screen. You can already use Fleksy with the Twitter, Facebook and Messages apps. An SDK is available, so developers can install the keyboard in their apps.
One of the most popular Android keyboards, SwiftKey will help you type faster and more accurately with intuitive next-word prediction, autocorrect and gesture typing (swipe). We love that you can split this keyboard into 2 and dock it wherever you want to make the layout more tablet friendly. SwiftKey’s iOS 8 version offers two themes and launch — Nickel Dark and Light — and will be available for download at 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 17.
The original swipe-based gesture keyboard maintains its stronghold with several compelling features. Use Swype‘s gestures to carry out tasks such as select all, cut, copy and paste by swiping to letters A, X, C and V respectively. The app also learns from your typing patterns and corrects your mistakes as you type. Bilinguals will appreciate being able to type in two languages at once. After being acquired by Nuance Communications in 2011, Swype also supports Dragon Dictation for voice input. Available for $0.99 on the App store today (Sept. 17).
Tiny keys on your iPhone’s screen can be difficult to hit accurately. Enter Snapkeys Zones. Instead of hitting specific buttons, you hit the zone that a letter is in and Snapkeys will guess the word you’re typing. So if you hit “w” instead of “q” when typing “Queen,” the keyboard will be smart enough to tell what you meant to type.
Snapkeys also offers themes and resizing options for you to personalize the typing experience. The app is in beta for Android right now, and its makers tell us they are working on iOS version as well.
What sets Adaptxt apart from other keyboard apps is its context and location awareness. Say you’ve turned on location-detection in the app and you’re in the Flatiron district. Adaptxt will automatically suggest Flatiron as a word if you type “Fl”. This is really handy for trying to meet up with friends via text. Adaptxt can also tell if you’re typing in a chat app or an email app and suggest more casual or formal lingo, respectively.
Adaptxt offers dictionaries for specific jobs that use a lot of jargon, such as doctors or scientists, so you won’t have to keep manually typing “stratiosphecomyioides” or “electroencephalographically” every time you type it. Adaptxt also says it is the market leader in languages, supporting some 100 tongues. The makers tell us to expect an iOS 8 launch soon.
TouchPal boasts some unique gestures, such as flipping up from the space bar for emoji and smileys, as well as a speed measurement tool to clock how quickly you’re typing. The keyboard’s Curve and Wave gesture recognition tools let you swipe from letter to letter to form words and phrases without lifting your finger off the keyboard. With a long press on the space bar, you can send a voice message as if using a walkie talkie. Flipping keys up or down inputs the symbol associated with that button. The company’s website states that the app is coming soon to iOS 8.