When Apple introduced iOS 8 a couple years ago, it also introduced support for third-party keyboards, meaning you get to install and use whatever type of keyboard you prefer, including glide-typing keyboards and GIF-search keyboards and emoji-only keyboards.
People either love or hate Apple's keyboard. Luckily, for those of you who hate it, there are plenty of alternative keyboards available. Pocket-lint has rounded up the top keyboards worth trying. We've also detailed how to set most of them up under within iPhone's Settings app.
Keyboard apps: Third-party keyboards for iOS
Described as the fastest keyboard in the world, Fleksy features over 600 emoji, colourful themes, autocorrect, gestures, typing achievements, and a cloud service, among many other things.
This has been available on other platforms for a while and features things like a grammar checker, sentence re-phraser, translator, dictionary, text reader, and personal-typing trainer.
Originally launched for Android, the Minuum team said it actually built the first version of its keyboard for iOS. The app allows for "delightfully fast, sloppy typing". It's a one-dimensional keyboard that frees up screen space and comes with a specialised auto-correction algorithm.
This isn't a traditional keyboard. It's just for GIFs, because some things are just better said with GIFs rather than those weird-looking things called words. The keyboard will let you choose from thousands of GIFs or upload your own GIFs, and recently-used ones are just a tap away.
Giphy Keys (Free)
Giphy is just like Popkey. It lets you browse, search, and share GIFs in your text messages - right from your keyboard. It provides access to the Giphy repository, which has a collection of millions of GIFs. It also supports hashtag search terms.
GIF Keyboard (Free)
This app is just like Popkey and Giphy, because ya know, choices. Features: It lets you send the perfect GIF and video responses straight from your keyboard, browse through categories like reactions, music, trending, etc, search millions of GIFs, and create collections of your favuorite GIFs.
Swype by Nuance is one of the most popular keyboard apps on other platforms. It lets you trace words with gestures on the keyboard instead of actually typing each letter. Other features include a smart editor, smart reselect, voice/text dictionary, themes, and more.
Like Swype, SwiftKey is hugely popular on Android. And now it is available for iOS devices. It offers gestures for typing as well as an autocomplete feature and an autocorrect feature. There's even a cloud service for backups and intelligent language detection capabilities.
Originally for Windows 8 and Android devices, TouchPal offers sentence gesture and word gesture technology, emojis and smileys, contextual prediction, Walkie Talkie-like input, auto correction, etc.
This custom keyboard (originally for Mac) allows you to quickly type information by entering shortcuts, sort of like shorthand. You could for instance, type "sig" in an email to quickly enter your complete signature (which might include your full name, title, and contact information).
Similar to TextExpander, Wolkober's KuaiBoard (formally called QuickBoard) will give you a quicker way to enter the snippets of text you repeatedly use on iOS devices such as addresses, credit card information, email signatures, and more. You can enter your email on TouchPal's website to be notified when the keyboard launches for iOS 8 devices.
Microsoft World Flow (Free)
Microsoft ported its Windows Word Flowphone keyboard to iOS. The Windows 10 Mobile keyboard also has a one-handed mode, but the new iOS keyboard is unique in that it serves up a fan-shaped layout instead. The app can smartly predict words too. Microsoft also added another feature that allow users to customise keyboard backgrounds with an image of their choice. Elsewhere in the app, users can track typing speed.
Gboard is Google's new app for iPhone. It lets you search and send information, GIFs, emojis and more: "With Gboard, you can search and send all kinds of things - restaurant info, flight times, news articles - right from your keyboard. Anything you’d search on Google, you can search with Gboard. Results appear as cards with the key information front and center, such as the phone number, ratings and hours," explained Google.
How set up keyboards in iOS:
- Download any third-party keyboards you want from Apple's App Store.
- Under General in Settings, go to Keyboard and then Keyboards.
- While in Keyboards, select Add New Keyboards.
- You should now see a list of all third-party keyboards you have installed on your device. Choose whichever keyboard you prefer.
- Once you select the keyboard, it will appear in Keyboards as an option. Press Edit to rearrange your keyboards and designate a main keyboard (must hold down on the actual keyboard name and then drag it around - like to the top to make it a main keyboard).
And that's it. You're now free to type, type, type (or gesture) away on a keyboard different from Apple's stock keyboard.