iOS 8 Keyboard (SwiftKey 001)

In addition to the makers of some of the most popular Android soft-keyboards like Swype, Fleksy and SwiftKey – which have all confirmed building downloadable keyboards for iOS 8 – two more companies have now jumped on the bandwagon: KeyPoint and Whirlscape, the respective makers of the Adaptxt and Minuum Android keyboards.

As a result, users will be able to pick among at least five different keyboards in the App Store when iOS 8 launches this Fall, in addition to Apple’s normal stock keyboard and the new and much improved QuickType one with adaptive suggestions…

Paul Sawers, writing for The Next Web, profiles five companies bringing downloadable keyboards to iOS 8.

He mentions Swype, Fleksy and SwiftKey – all of which have already confirmed the news earlier this week – as well as two other Android developers, UK-based software company KeyPoint Technologies and Indiegogo-funded Minuum by Whirlscape.

KeyPoint makes a number of various software keyboards for Android devices marketed under under the Adaptxt brand.

As pictured below, Adaptxt includes both tap typing and swiping, with UI themes, suggestions that adapt to your writing style and improve over time, support for more than 100 languages, 30 specialized dictionaries covering industry-specific terminology and more.

KeyPoiunt Adaptxt (Android keyboard 002)KeyPoiunt Adaptxt (Android keyboard 001)

Sumit Goswami, the CEO with the Glasgow Scotland based startup, confirmed to the publication that an iOS 8 keyboard is in the works:

We’re very well known within the Android community and have been working toward delivering the same experience on iOS.

After Tim Cook hinted in March at Apple’s newly found openness, Goswami claims Monday’s news of third-party keyboard development in iOS 8 did not really take him by surprise.

“We’ve been developing and continuing to enhance our technology for a few years now,” he said. “The demand is definitely there and the product is mature; these might be the determining factors.”

As for Whirlscape’s collapsible (as seen below) keyboard which saves screen space, called Minuum, they had various prototypes running on iOS well before Monday’s announcement. The team is now looking forward to “bringing those back to life.”

Minuum Android keyboard (collapsed)

According to their spokesperson:

This news is tremendously exciting, and we are ramping up our development efforts to bring Minuum to iOS. We will be announcing more details when we’re closer to launch, but we’re looking forward to finally fulfilling the wishes of our many iPhone-wielding supporters.

Apple’s decision to open up in this direction appears to be an acknowledgement that customization is important to touchscreen phone users, which has historically been a major reason for users to choose Android over iOS.

And in eyeing devices beyond smartphones and tablets, the team is mulling a smartwatch keyboard and has previously produced what it calls the world’s first soft-keyboard for Google’s Glass eyewear.

You can register your interest for the Minuum iOS 8 keyboard here.

Apple’s terms of keyboard development are somewhat restrictive.

For example, third-party keyboards can’t access services built into the bowel of the operating system, such as dictation, auto-correct or typing suggestions.

In turn, keyboard developers must support these features themselves, should they choose so, instead of relying on iOS.

Also, should a software keyboard need to communicate with the network to, say, synchronize a user’s typing profile or custom dictionaries across devices, user permission in the form of the standard iOS dialogue box shall be required.

Image top of post: Swype keyboard, via Apple’s iOS 8 webpage.