Top 5 Custom Keyboards on iOS 8

With the recent improvements to the iOS keyboard including the option to download third party keyboards, several new utility apps have sprung up with growing popularity. Currently, the most popular custom keyboard apps for iOS 8 users are:

mmblog_swipe_01Swype Keyboard
Created by Nuance Communications, the Swype Keyboard app touts itself as the “most accurate keyboard on the planet.” Instead of plucking away at the keys, this keyboard enables users to simply swipe over the keys in continuous motion. In addition to using motion information to determine which keys you meant to type, the Swpe app also learns the style of your motions to improve its performance over time. The keyboard features intuitive language models, five themes, quick access to symbols, and a customized dictionary that learns your style. This app is only $0.99 in iTunes.

The SwiftKey keyboard app is much like Swype in that it enables swipe based typing, though SwiftKey refers to it as “flow”. Created by TouchType, this keyboard touts that it is able to support bilingual typing. Thus, if you feel the need to break out into another language mid-sentence, this keyboard can keep up while still providing suggestions. To truly improve the performance of this keyboard, however, the app requests that you sign up for SwiftKey Cloud. The app is slightly more appealing than the Swype keyboard due to it being free and having bilingual support, though bugs causing the keyboard to fail to load in apps that have been open for a while is understandably deterring some users.

The TouchPal keyboard app hits a sweet spot for many iPhone users. Developed by CooTek, the free app offers swipe typing (described as TouchPal Curve), colorful themes, robust emoji menu built in, and quick access to symbols by swiping down over a letter. While all of the keyboard apps claim that their swipe/flow/curve typing capability coupled with predictive text makes typing faster, TouchPal goes so far as to claim that users can reduce keystrokes by 90%. While our tests confirmed this app reduces keystrokes, 90% seemed a bit hopeful. When swiping a word, the preview often isn’t available until you’ve moved on (hit space), so app is best used by users who are comfortable with trusting a swipe keyboard and aren’t thrown off by this delay.

Free for a limited time only, CooolKey lets users customize the look and feel of their keyboard with a myriad of custom colors, fonts, designs, and even sounds. There are hundreds of themes built in to choose from, though users can also customize their own. While the designs available with CooolKey are more tasteful than the Pimp My Keyboard app, this app is sadly currently riddled with major issues, as auto-correct is not functional, and the keyboard does not have any language options. Although it may be tempting to

Pimp My Keyboard
For a purely aesthetic upgrade, the Pimp My Keyboard app allows users to customize the look and feel of their keyboard. On a mission to the world of “boring keyboards,” the creators at Cocopok have created a playground where the keyboard image, color, and font can be edited. It’s free, so if you’ve ever wanted to color coordinate with your keyboard match your phone case and wallpaper, this is the app for you.

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