Stephen Hawking uses SwiftKey to work smarter, faster

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Now Professor Hawking can curse autocorrect, too. Photo: The Next Web
Now Professor Hawking can curse autocorrect, too. Photo: The Next Web

Famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has a better way to talk now, thanks to a new custom predictive text software upgrade from SwiftKey and Intel Labs. The technology that Professor Hawking was currently using was going on 20 years old, and needed a fix to help him communicate and work faster and more efficiently.

His life-long motor neurone disease of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has necessitated his use of communications technology, and this new system will allow him to choose words rather than individual letters, which lets him type less than 20 percent of all needed characters in his messages. It also makes him 10 times more efficient with other computing tasks like browsing the web, working with files, and switching between tasks on the computer.

Why does Apple strip dictation from third-party keyboards in iOS 8?

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Why won't Apple let keyboards (like Fleksy, above)  access dictation? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Why won't Apple let third-party keyboards offer dictation? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

If you’ve installed a third-party keyboard on your iPhone or iPad running iOS 8, you might have noticed a strange omission: While you can communicate in animated GIFs or Klingon, you can’t dictate into any keyboard not made by Apple.

Reddit user 11011 sums up the puzzling situation nicely: “I can’t get myself to stick to alternate keyboards because I use dictation way too much and switching keyboards is a hassle.”

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.”

How to start enjoying third-party keyboards in iOS 8

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iOS 8 finally gives iPhone users a feature Android owners have long loved: third-party keyboards.

It’s a pretty familiar feature, but unleashing developers so they can create new keyboards for the iPhone (and iPad) is huge — and users being able to enjoy them all is even better.

In today’s Cult of Mac video, we show you how to install third-party keyboards in iOS 8 and introduce you to some of our favorite available custom keyboards. You’ll find out how to wipe to type your messages, give your keyboards themes and much more with this instructional video.

Subscribe to Cult of Mac TV on YouTube to catch all our latest videos.

See how third-party keyboards will ease typing in iOS 8

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iOS 8 introduces many convenient features and enhancements designed to make your iPhone even easier to use. Among these is keyboard update QuickType and support for installing third-party keyboards on iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. In today’s video, we’ll show you exactly how third-party keyboards work — and how they will change your interactions with your device for the better.

Subscribe to Cult of Mac TV on YouTube to catch all our latest videos.