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

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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

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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

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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.

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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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