iOS 8’s third-party keyboards work like a charm

touchpaliOS8keyboard

Custom¬†keyboards are landing on iPhones and iPads this fall after Apple finally decided to give users more options than Jony Ive’s horrible shift key.

We’re still a few months away from finished keyboards¬†being ready for the public, but this morning we got our first taste of using a custom keyboard on iOS 8 thanks to the guys at TouchPal. My fingers still need a lot of training before I’m able to sweep words together faster than an Android user, but the future of iOS keyboards promises to be swift, swipeable and super-simple.

Here’s what it’s like to install and use iOS 8 custom keyboards:

Installation

installtouchpadiOS8

To get a third party keyboard on your iPhone, first you’ll have to download the app from the App Store. Once you’ve installed a keyboard app on your device, you can add it to the system-wide keyboard the same way you toggle the emoji keyboard on/off.

After navigating to the “Add New Keyboard” option under Settings >> General >> Keyboards there’s now a section for Third-Party Keyboards that lists the keyboard apps you have installed. Tapping a keyboard brings up its install page. Tap done and it’s ready to be used in all of your apps.

Switching

switchingkeyboard

Apple has decided to allow third-party keyboards to be the default keyboard system-wide, but if you want to hang on to the regular iOS 8 keyboard you can. To switch between the two you just tap the globe icon just as you would to switch to emoji or an international keyboard.

To set your third-party keyboard as the default, go back to the Keyboards settings, tap edit and then drag your favorite keyboard to the top. You can also remove the default iOS keyboard entirely by swiping to the left over the keyboard name to delete it.

TouchPal released an alpha version of its keyboard this morning to a limited audience but has plans for a wider beta release later. Other companies like Fleksy, SwiftKey and Swype are also hard at work readying their popular Android keyboards for the launch of iOS 8.

touchpaldeletekeyboards

  • Dood

    Does this work on ios 8 beta 2?

    • BusterH

      yep

      • jonk

        ios 8 beta 2 doesnt show me the option for adition keyboards

      • BusterH

        you have to install the TouchPad app, which you can only do right now if the devs give you access to their app in TestFlight

      • Saved0ne

        How do you contact them to get access?

  • jflipb

    Apple slipped in a little nugget about privacy when talking about 3rd party keyboards at WWDC. I’m paraphrasing, but something like “3rd party keyboards have the ability to retain every letter you type. Apple will notify you of this when you install a 3rd party keyboard.” Is anyone else concerned about this? Passwords, Credit Cards, etc. Because nobody is talking about whether or not this is truly secure. Yes, I know Android has had this capability for a while. Have there ever been any problems?

    • http://tiboine.com/ Tor Ivan Boine

      nope.
      if that would have happened, you bet there would be big headlines about it.
      Ive used swiftkey since, uhm, 2009-10 I think. no problems

    • Diogo

      Actually, 3rd party keyboard do not have access to password fields. When a password field is presented to the user the default keyboard shows up. The same happens when a field requires the numpad keyboard as they are normally used to hold phone numbers and Apple considers that a “sensitive” information.

      Besides that, 3rd party keyboard do not have access to internet by default, users need to allow them if they wish…

      I’m not sure about Android , but I don’t believe they have any restriction to 3rd party keyboards…

  • CO2 Insanity

    I had Swiftkey on my Android. I can’ wait for it on my iPhone/iPad.

  • Thalia Grace

    Finally. Now if only ios would allow you to change/customize your icons or add themes to change the look of your homescreen… then I’d be pretty happy with ios overall (I don’t really care about widgets tbh.)

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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