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.

  • MHCsk

    I hope AltKeyboard 2 will make it to the AppStore.

    • SkyFall

      I hope the folks from SwipeSelection figure a way to bring SwipeSelection into a 3rd party keyboard.

      • sosarozay300

        swipe selection isnt available because apple restricted that in ios 8

      • Matt Taylor

        What? Why would they do that… Everyone loves Swipeselection and it’s one of the main reasons I Jailbreak! If that is true then I am still going to Jailbreak where as I may have not done!

      • Inseltraeumer

        I think the issue is that custom keyboards will not be allowed to utilize Apple’s stock dictionary/auto correction, and what developer would be able to provide such features by themselves?

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        The issue is Swipeselection manipulates the cursor and according to the docs this is not allowed and might actually be impossible. This was mentioned earlier this week on Reddit over at /r/jailbreak.

      • sriram varadarajulu

        that maybe true my friend but a 3rd party keyboard can be integrated with its functionality cant it?

      • Jad Boukai

        Yeah, wouldn’t it be allowed if SwipeSelection made a separate 3rd-Party keyboard that looks identical to the stock Keyboard, but with the addition of the cursor movement to swipe between letters and words. That way, it would still be a different keyboard, not like a function added to a keyboard.

      • sriram varadarajulu

        it was rhetorical but thanks anyway 😛

  • Maxim∑

    After trying android for a little while I think apples stock keyboard is the best

    • Anmol Malhotra

      Absolutely right!

  • Can SwipeSlection Jailbreak tweak be a 3rd Party Keyboard for iOS now?

    • RarestName

      Nope. Apparently third party keyboards aren’t allowed to move the position of the cursor.

      • Hmm… Got it. Thanks! A path a time. May Apple allow this in a near future

  • Anmol Malhotra

    I wonder will they be free or what?
    And what about their standalone apps? Fleksy , Swiftkey?
    And I bought themes from Fleksy will they be included in iOS8 new version.
    Sooo many questions -_-

  • RarestName

    I’ve concluded that Apple’s “new” prediction feature is the most accurate of all the prediction keyboards I’ve used. And I’ve tried various keyboards like SwiftKey and TouchPal keyboard. And I’ve only used it for like what, two days? I’m going to stick with the stock keyboard until a comparable alternative comes along.

  • Ishaan Malhotra

    is there any 3rd party keyboards i can try right now?

    • Mike Colacone Saal

      Sure. Jailbreak. Hipjot / nintype have a sweet keyboard for swipe in their apps. I use it now with the jailbreak system wide.

      • Ishaan Malhotra

        I meant on ios 8. Did use it when i was jailbroken, but lost jailbreak

      • Mike Colacone Saal

        Oh. I’m sure if you knew a developer of one you could beta test using test flight, however I don’t believe any are ready for beta yet.

  • iDude

    One thing that isn’t clear to me is that, is it going to be a separate app just like in android? or developers can only implement custom keyboard on their own app?

    • Mike Colacone Saal

      They can already be custom keyboards in apps. This is for system wide keyboards.

      • erod434

        No he means will keyboards come with an app to customize the keyboard, and install themes etc.

    • sriram varadarajulu

      i’m guessing they wont be of ipa format but rather be of some other format or extension.. or perhaps xcode will come up with a template for keyboard creating

  • Eni

    how we are suposed to download them? will it be a section in the app store only for keyboards? how they going to be pakaged? so many questions

    • SkyFall

      There will be an Extensions section in the App Store.

  • Jeff

    They need to make a keyboard for big thumbs!

    • Jonathan

      *ahem* iPad.

      • Jeff

        *ahem* iPhone.

  • Your Mother

    welcome to 2011 everyone.

  • Rodney Coleman

    Minuum im waiting

  • OQR

    Obviously none of the people here have tried the Windows phone 8.1 WordFlow keyboard

  • Jad Boukai

    You know what would be an awesome keyboard, the Dvorak keyboard. I mean, they couldn’t used it for typewriters because it was TOO efficient and actually jammed the keys. Would be pretty cool to see that on iOS. (As a 3rd-Party Keyboard of course)

  • Jonathan

    I’ve been talking with the dev. He says it might be harder to do it due to Apple’s restrictions still. But he said it will make it. I think he just updated is iPod 5 to iOS 8 to begin the process, so it might be a while.

    twitter . com/jormy