This iOS 8 keyboard translates your texts into other languages as you type

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Yup, it's basically a universal translator. Photo: Slated

From Klingon to GIF-based keyboards, we’re seeing some really interesting examples of new third-party keyboards with iOS 8.

Here’s a particularly exciting one, though: a keyboard which translates messages into other languages as you type. It does the opposite, too, which means that if you receive a text message in say, French, it can instantly translate it into English, or your choice of language. Neat, right?

A definitive guide to third-party keyboards in iOS 8

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Minuum is one of the many third-party keyboards for iOS 8. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Minuum is one of the many third-party keyboards for iOS 8. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

With iOS 8, iPhone and iPad owners for the first time ever can replace Apple’s default virtual keyboard with a third-party alternative.

Doing so — with keyboards made by SwiftKey, Swype, Fleksy and others — could vastly improve your touchscreen typing experience. Not only do some of these keyboards make typing easier, but they also boast innovative features, like the ability to type words using simple swipes instead of taps. Many of these keyboards are completely customizable, so you can set their size and color scheme to suit you.

If you haven’t already installed a third-party keyboard, you’re missing out on one of iOS 8’s best features. In this guide, first we’ll tell you about the best keyboards available from the App Store right now. We’ll also run through the features that make them unique, show you how you can customize them and make them work for you, and explain some important concepts, such as “Full Access.”

Logitech’s new keyboard with built-in iPad stand lets you dial between devices

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Many of us use a Bluetooth keyboard with our Mac or our iPad, but using the same keyboard with multiple devices can be a real pain in the neck, since Bluetooth doesn’t elegantly let you pair one accessory with multiple devices.

For a little while now, Logitech has been trying to massage away that pain with a series of keyboards that can switch between being paired with a Mac and iOS device, but Logitech’s new Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 makes it easier than ever. And it has a built-in stand for your iPad or iPhone to boot.

Smile’s custom TextExpander keyboard for iOS 8 will save you time typing

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Of all the apps that will benefit from custom keyboards in iOS 8, TextExpander by Smile Software is one of the more obvious. In case you’re unfamiliar, TextExpander allows you to create snippets of text and media that can be inserted anywhere with a quick keyboard shortcut.

“We’ve been hard at work since Apple announced the new and exciting extensions and custom keyboards available in iOS 8,” said Smilie in a preview of their new keyboard layout. “TextExpander touch 3, coming on the heels of iOS 8 this fall, includes a TextExpander keyboard which can expand snippets in any app on the iPhone or iPad, including built-in apps such as Mail and Safari.”