Whether or not you like the keyboard in iOS, starting this fall you’ll be able to install your favorite one, as Apple has opened up support for third-party keyboards in iOS 8. TouchType will be among the first companies to take advantage of the new feature, rolling out the popular SwiftKey for iPhone and iPad.
Apple says, “iOS 8 brings the biggest changes to the keyboard since the very first iPhone,” and they’re not lying. Currently you have to settle with what the company has to offer, and their solution is far from ideal, especially if you tend to hit that Shift key quite a lot.
By far the biggest enhancement is support for third-party keyboards, allowing you to swipe rather than type, or use a classic keyboard layout. Heck, you could even end up using the original iPhone OS keyboard. After hearing the announcement at WWDC, TouchType immediately said it wanted in.
“We’re delighted Apple has decided to embrace the importance of opening its platform to third party keyboards,” said co-founders Ben Medlock and Jon Reynolds. “For more than four years, SwiftKey and our millions of users have pioneered faster, easier typing on touchscreens, leading the industry with next-word prediction and smarter autocorrection.”
“Our technology features on more than 200 million devices to date and we can’t wait to reach more. We first brought a taste of our technology to iOS in January this year with the launch of the free note-taking app SwiftKey Note. Are we going to build SwiftKey Keyboard for iOS 8? Of course we are. We’ve already started,” the duo said yesterday.
The iOS 8 keyboard further includes suggestions (much like SwiftKey itself) for your next word. Users will be able to write entire sentences with as little as four or five taps. Apple explains:
“Because as you type, you’ll see choices of words or phrases you’d probably type next, based on your past conversations and writing style.”
The software will even distinguish between people, suggesting more laid back wording if you’re texting your wife, or formal terms if you’re talking to your boss. And although iOS learns your most used terms, they never get sent to the cloud.
Optimized for 14 countries at the moment, the iOS 8 predictive text engine will serve up words and phrases that are commonly used in your region. All this and much more will be available starting this fall.