TouchType is behind the popular SwiftKey software keyboard for Android phones and the company previously went on the record expressing hope that Apple would allow third-party software keyboard development for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices.
“The keyboard is the thing that needs work more than anything on that platform,” TouchType’s marketing chief Joe Braidwood said last summer.
For the record, Tim Cook did promise that his company would open iOS up more for third-party developers. While the stock iOS keyboard is still off limits, TouchType is now incorporating its popular SwiftKey keyboard technology into an upcoming new note-taking iOS app, SwiftKey Note…
The reliable leaker @evleaks just posted a purported SwiftKey Note screenshot seen top of post.
Not much can be gleaned from the image apart from a row of tappable auto-correct suggestions right above what appears to be the regular stock iOS keyboard.
If the SwiftKey experience on Android is anything to go by, the custom keyboard integration in SwiftKey Note should allow for a much faster typing experience with fewer misspellings compared to Apple’s virtual keyboard.
Here’s SwiftKey 4 for Android.
Competition in the soft keyboard space is heating up, though all third-party input methods are limited to specific apps due to technical limitations of the platform.
For example, developer Yose Widjaja recently unveiled a Swype-style keyboard in his note-taking app Hipjot. The keyboard allows you to type and utilize swipe gestures with two hands, enabling you to complete words and sentences very quickly.
And San Francisco-based startup Fleksy announced last December a software development kit for Apple’s registered iOS developers seeking to implement additional keyboard layouts and looks in their apps.
A few apps now notable support Fleksy input methods, like the Google Voice client GV Connect, typing aid Blindsquare, text editor Wordbox and productivity tool Launch Center Pro, as depicted below.
It is no secret that the stock iOS keyboard is Apple’s greatest weakness.
It’s not that the keyboard itself is bad. Quite the contrary, iOS 7 brought out a number of refinements to make the iOS keyboard’s auto-correct and predictions a lot smarter.
For example, keyboard shortcuts are now part of the iOS 7 auto-correct dictionary, there are new shortcuts in Safari with external keyboards, auto-correct can now fix misspellings in multiple words, the keyboard itself has been revamped and now includes a dark and light variant and so forth.
Still, those advances pale in comparison to the openness of the Android platform which allows users to install any number of third-party soft keyboards. It’s notable that even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak wishes the company was “more open” and “sharing with their protocols”.
Check out an excerpt from his speech in Beijing.
Wouldn’t you love to be able to fire up the App Store and replace the stock iOS touch-typing experience with a downloadable Swype or SwiftKey soft keyboard?