For Google’s iPhone keyboard, search will be key

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iPad keyboard
That's great and all, but couldn't it be swipier?
Screenshot: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

The world’s biggest search engine is planning a new way to get its software onto Apple products, The Verge is reporting. It’s a Google iPhone keyboard that developers hope will trump the stock iOS one.

Third-party keyboards are nothing new, but very few actually have a shot at replacing Apple’s as the go-to typing tool either because of pointless features or shoddy design. But we think that if anyone’s going to give it a running start, it’s Google.

Slash might be iOS’s most powerful keyboard, and it’s free

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Slash Keyboard makes it easy to add GIFs, emojis and just about anything else to your messages.
Slash Keyboard makes it easy to add GIFs, emojis and just about anything else to your messages.
Photo: Slash Keyboard

I’m not usually a big fan of third-party iOS keyboards because they’re often clumsy and perform worse than iOS’s default keyboard. But I like Slash Keyboard. It’s fast, it’s accurate, and it allows you to search for and insert nearly anything on the web – GIFs, stickers, YouTube videos, Foursquare locations, you name it — into an email or text message, without once changing screens.

Unique keyboard app turns your boring messages into music

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The most melodious way to type.
Typing "LOL" and "WTF" has never been so melodious.
Photo: SoundKey

SoundKey is a clever keyboard app that plays instruments as you type to create melodies from your words.

Developed by two French students who wanted to incorporate music directly into people’s daily use of the iPhone, it’s an unusual twist on the custom iOS keyboards we’ve come to know and love.

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.”

5 wacky iOS 8 keyboards that will change the way you communicate

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Craig Federighi a.k.a. Hair Force One takes a moment to talk about third-party Klingon keyboards at last week's iPad launch. Photo: Apple
Craig Federighi praises the Klingon Keyboard during last week's iPad launch. Photo: Apple

Third-party keyboards like SwiftKey and Swype vastly improve touchscreen typing in iOS 8, but sometimes you need to go that extra mile to really express yourself. Sometimes you need to send text messages in Klingon, or get your point across visually with an animated GIF or an off-the-cuff doodle.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, showcased a Klingon Keyboard during last week’s iPad media event, and that’s just one of the amusingly offbeat keyboards flooding the App Store in this new era of freedom.

Cult of Mac talked with the developers behind the Klingon Keyboard and other wacky alternatives for this guide to the weird world of third-party iOS keyboards. You’ll never type the same way again!

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.

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

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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: