iOS 8 has been out for a few months now, and developers have had time to build apps for its new features. One of those new features was support for third-party keyboards. Apple did a decidedly un-Apple thing and opened the door for alternate ways to type with iOS 8.
A few months in, the app store is full of third-party keyboard apps. Only a few are worth your time, though. These are our top picks for custom keyboards for iOS 8. They are not arranged in any particular order and are a mix of free and paid apps.
Best iOS 8 Keyboard Apps
The keyboard that put swipe typing on the map is now on iOS. Now iPhone owners can finally try the experience that Android users have been talking about for years.
Swype is fast and easy to use. It offers the same predictive text features as other keyboards, in addition to the best swipe typing out of all the keyboards I tested. Where SwiftKey only offers one suggestion after a swipe entry, Swype offers several.
Swipe typing is especially nice on the 4-inch iPhone 5, as the phone is actually small enough to use without two hands. One-handed swipe typing feels much faster than one-handed tap typing.
I couldn’t get the setup to finish properly, though the keyboard works. Some kind of way to sign into my Swype account would have been nice. How cool would it be to download the app, sign in and instantly have my custom collection of swear words from Android!
I like Minuum. Not because it’s especially great, because it’s not. The app is too weird to be useful in everyday scenarios. I like Minuum because it’s so weird and so different from anything else on the market.
Minuum collapses your keyboard into a single row and uses powerful autocorrect to figure out what you’re typing. It’s a unique but effective way to type.
Or, at least it is on Android. The Minuum iOS app lags and consistently misunderstood my input. It also suffers from the same problems I mentioned in my original review of the Android version.
Minuum is a slightly worse version of a flawed app. It’s worth a look, but know what you’re paying for.
SwiftKey pioneered the use of predictive text in software keyboards. Its iOS version holds up to those standards, offering fast performance and quick typing.
The best thing I could say about SwiftKey is that it’s the same app we’ve seen on Android. Oh, and it’s free.
Kanvas is another funny keyboard. Sure, it lets you type, but that’s not really the point. This keyboard lacks auto-correct, predictive text and swiping. It doesn’t even switch back to the letters when you hit space after a comma.
Kanvas is for making quick reaction GIFs and sending them as MMS/iMessage images. In that, it excels. You can make all kinds of funny flashing images for your friends. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into. No judgement.
Nintype is an app that a few people will love and most people won’t get. It offers predictive text and swipe typing within a framework of advanced techniques. You can use multiple swipes to complete words, as well as adding hex shortcuts for certain words.
There’s a definite learning curve, but if you can get over it the app offers seriously fast typing. If you’re the type of person who likes vim or uses lots of keyboard shortcuts on PC, you’ll probably like Nintype.
In the end, I’ll probably stick with Swype. It’s simple, effective swipe typing with no frills or fuss. I wanted to like Minuum, but its performance is abysmal.
The best keyboard on iOS is probably still the stock Apple keyboard. It has incredibly good predictive text and flawless performance. If it had swipe typing, it would be perfect.