5 Non-Apple Keyboards for iOS 8 Devices

Here are some of the keyboard vendors who are, or might be, planning a software port when iOS 8 is released in the fall.

iOS 8 keyboards

With iOS 8, Apple announced it would let third-party virtual keyboards run on iPhones and iPads, providing users - for the first time - with a choice for a system-wide alternative to the traditional iOS software keyboard (shown here). Here are some of the keyboard vendors who are, or might be, planning a software port when iOS 8 is released in the fall.

iOS 8 keyboards
iOS default keyboard, by Apple

What you have today on your iPhone and iPad is based on a patent, number 7,602,378, originally filed in October 2006, listing Apple employees Kenneth Kocienda and Richard Williamson as the inventors. Shown is the keyboard layout as illustrated in that filing. This is the default keyboard for iOS devices. You can install third-party keyboards as separate iOS apps, but they’re limited to single functions like note-taking.

iOS 8 keyboards
Credit: YouTube.com
Fleksy, by Fleksy

This vendor is already offering users a chance to sign up for their iOS 8 beta software. Fleksy features a stripped down QWERTY keyboard, creating what the company says is 114 percent larger effective typing area. In place of some function keys, it uses gestures, such as swipes, to create spaces, delete or capitalize a character and punctuate. Predictive typing and auto-correction are intended to save you from having to stare at your fingers as you type.

iOS 8 keyboards
Credit: YouTube.com
Minuum, by Whirlscape

This is pretty cool: the Minuum takes the traditional three-layer QWERTY keyboard and in effect squashes them together into a single sort-of line of keys. You can size this keyline to fit whatever screen you have. There’s error-correction to allow “fast sloppy typing,” a predictive typing function, and a zoom view to magnify the keys.

iOS 8 keyboards
Multiling O Keyboard, by Honso

It’s available from Google Play, and other download sites (Honso is an Android programmer). One main claim to fame is the huge number of languages it supports via downloadable plugins, everything from Aceh (spoken in northern Sumatra) to Zazaki, spoken in eastern Turkey. According to one of the few reviews we could find (a year old), MK’s layout is highly customizable in regards to size, key shape and spacing and theme; it supports accurate gesture input via swiping through letters; and it can be unmoored from the traditional location at the bottom of the screen to “float” transparently over the top of any running application. All in about one-third of a megabyte of storage.

iOS 8 keyboards
SwiftKey, from TouchType

One of the best known, and well-regarded, Android keyboards, SwiftKey will be coming to iOS “soon,” promises the vendor’s website. (It’s been available as a native iOS note-taking app.) The prediction engine learns not only your typing patterns, but how words work together and can sometimes suggest the next word before you start typing it. Options let the keyboard learn your patterns from your email, SMS, and social media interactions. Flow, introduced in version 4, lets you glide your fingers from one key to the other continuously. Smart Space figures out where to insert spaces as you type.

iOS 8 keyboards
Credit: YouTube.com
Swype, by Nuance

Nuance claims over 250 million users for this multi-mode keyboard. Instead of touching each key individually, you press a finger to the first letter of the word, keep it pressed to the screen and trace it to the next letter, and the next, lifting up after the last one. (Screenshot shows the line to spell out “Swype.”) You can adjust various features for your preference, such as the keyboard height. The software figures out what you will type based on your past use of specific words in relationship to each other. Also integrated: the Nuance Dragon dictation engine for voice-to-text input.