For Google’s iPhone keyboard, search will be key


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


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


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?


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


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!