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.”

PopKey replaces your iOS 8 keyboard with a GIF control panel

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gifkeyboard

GIFs are one of the finest gifts God has given the internet. I can’t get enough of them. And once iOS 8 drops it’s going to be easier than ever to have non-stop reaction GIF conversations with friends.

PopKey is a third party keyboard that will replace those useless letters on your keyboard with your favorite GIFs.

You can search for GIFs by keyword and paste them into messages without ever having to leave your conversation. The app will come with access to thousands of GIFs, but you can also upload your own if you want. And now that iOS 8 automatically deletes old messages, you don’t have to worry about them hogging your storage.

Here’s a closer look at the keyboard in action: