TouchPal iOS 8 Swipe

It’s no secret that I’ve dipped my toes into the Android waters a time or two during my tenure at iDB, but I always end up hugging my iOS devices in the end. Android has some great ideas, but, at least for me, the experience is still not cohesive enough to warrant a switch.

One of the big takeaways from my last Android experience was how much I loved having third-party keyboards. I’ve ranted about this in the past on an episode of Let’s Talk iOS. It doesn’t make sense that we treat software keyboards just like we do a standard desktop keyboard.

We type on each key individually on a desktop keyboard because we have to, but the glass surface of a touch-screen tablet or phone doesn’t have this restriction. Why are we still typing in such an antiquated way? It’s slower, prone to mistakes, and doesn’t take advantage of the software. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of iOS, and one of the key reasons that I had a hard time letting go of my Samsung Galaxy S5.

You can only imagine my excitement when Apple revealed that it would be allowing third-party keyboard access in iOS 8. This, not widgets, not extensions, was by far the most exciting thing to me about iOS 8. It’s something I’ve been longing for since I saw how much better it is to type, or should I say swipe, using third-party keyboards.

Yesterday, I got the chance to go hands-on with TouchPal—one of the very first third-party keyboards for iOS 8. Watch, as I show you how to enable and use a third-party keyboard in iOS 8.

Keep in mind that the TouchPal keyboard is still in an unreleased alpha state, so the look of the keyboard and the app is subject to change. Enabling a third-party keyboard in iOS 8 basically involves the following steps:

Step 1: Download the keyboard app from the App Store. The app, could, in theory, allow for further customization of the keyboard. The TouchPal app that I downloaded had no options, but again, it’s alpha.

TouchPal App

Step 2: Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard > and find the Third-Party Keyboards section. Beneath it, you should see any third-party keyboard that you have installed. In this case, I saw the TouchPal keyboard here. Tap on the keyboard that you’d like to add, and it should be added to your list of available keyboards.

Third Party Keyboards

Step 3: Open an app that uses the keyboard; the Notes app is a good app to use. Tap the world icon that resides to the left of the spacebar to cycle through your list of available keyboards. Eventually, you should land on TouchPal.

TouchPal Select

Once TouchPal is enabled, you can use it to build words using swipe gestures between the letters that appear in the word. It works very much like Swype.

As mentioned, all of this is a work in progress, but even at this early state, the TouchPal keyboard looks seriously promising. I absolutely cannot wait to be able to ditch the stock iOS keyboard for good, in favor of an input method that’s been designed from the ground up for touch screen devices.

What do you think? Are you excited about the prospects that third-party keyboards bring to iOS?

  • KsbjA

    Although Safari extensions (Adblock!) and widgets (social share buttons á la iOS 6!) have me really excited, I’m intrigued by third-party keyboards as well. I don’t always type English, and my options are limited when it comes to keyboards that support my native language, so I’m not sure how much of an advantage will I be able to take of this feature. With that said, my sister can type in our language using Swype just fine – she has a Samsung Galaxy Ace II. Anyhow, this is exciting, and I hope some more exotic keyboards, like 8pen, are going to come to iOS as well.

    • Tony Trenkle Jr.

      I doubt they allow Adblock lol I think the extension has to be an app already in the App Store.

      • Chris Licata

        What stops adblock from writing an app for the store with the sole intent of being adblock for Safari?

      • R4

        Adverts are the main/only source of income for a lot of blogs and websites including iDownloadblog, it’s basically like stealing. So I doubt apple will allow an app like that.

      • There’s already Adblock apps in the AppStore (I know because I own one of them) and blocking ads isn’t stealing it’s just blocking a host from connecting to your device and there’s good reasons to do so:

        1. A lot of malware can (and has) been distributed via advertisements
        2. Many ads are intrusive and you only have to look at some of the adverts in Cydia (the repos) to know that this is true.
        3. Most advertisers disrespect people’s provacy and do not honour Do Not Track requests.

      • Gerard Rodrigo

        Nevertheless there are other ways to protect your computer other than hacking away at a website’s ad revenue. Don’t classify all advertisers with the same malpractices, similarly don’t justify your actions with the behavior of the small minority.

      • What I’ve said is actually more common than you might think.

        For example Google famously does not honour Do Not Track requests stating they don’t know how to impliment it. It’s actually quite simple Google I don’t want you to track me so don’t…

        It’s also possible to perform a man-in-the-middle attack using advertisement networks if you’re at an advantageous position within a computer network. Blocking them outright prevents this to a certain degree…

      • Laura Adam

        I believe I read that you can’t move the cursor with the third party keyboards according to the terms by apple.

      • KsbjA

        iDownloadblog is one thing, but some sites (mostly cyberlockers) have porn ads, which I don’t want to see.

      • Tony Trenkle Jr.

        Apples not gonna allow that. You’re gonna have to jailbreak for that. Think about it, it’s Apple.

      • Yes, Apple would never let people block advertisements now would they…

        (I was being sarcastic if you couldn’t tell)[.]com/us/app/weblock-adblock-for-ios/id558818638?mt=8

      • Guest

        “Think about it, it’s Apple.”

        Well would you look at that? Is that Adblock on Apple’s Safari Extensions page? First one too!

      • Tony Trenkle Jr.

        Uh thats for the Mac….I’m talking about iOS…with iOS 8…adblock cant be one of those extensions. Of course its a desktop one. I use it on Chrome all the time. I’m not that dumb.

      • Noah

        There are already a few Adblock tools on the App Store. It doesn’t actually modify anything (if I’m correct), it gives you a DNS code to put into your WiFi settings. Of course, only works on WiFi.

    • RarestName

      What’s your native language? iOS also doesn’t support my native language (a specific Chinese dialect) but there’s also a keyboard on Android that supports it.

      • KsbjA

        Latvian. There’s ~2M native speakers. iOS has a Latvian keyboard (it comes with autocorrect since iOS 5), but I’m worried not many third-party devs are going to make their cool swipable keybpards work with Latvian. But yes, Swype did on Samsung. Samsung actually has Android translated into Latvian (vanilla Android is available in Latvian as well), but iOS hasn’t been officially translated yet.

  • Will Mason Moses

    Hmm. I can’t seem to find it on the app store. I searched it, it shows up as one of the autofill options but the results turn up nothing. Any help?

    • It’s not out. It’s in alpha (stated in the article).

      • Matt

        And how to get it ?

      • Check my response above for how to get it.

      • R4

        It’s invite only. Follow the touchpal Twitter for a chance to get invited.

      • Thiago Vaccaro

        “Download the keyboard app from the App Store. The app, could, in theory, allow for further customization of the keyboard. The TouchPal app that I downloaded had no options, but again, it’s alpha.”

      • Yaseen AlSuwaidan

        Check the paragraph above it, “Keep in mind that the TouchPal keyboard is still in an unreleased alpha state” & “Enabling a third-party keyboard in iOS 8 basically involves the following steps”

        The article explains how to enable third-party keyboard in general, not that specific keyboard 😉

      • Byron C Mayes

        Wait. You want us to actually *read* the article and not just the headline and maybe a photo caption then straight to the comments?

        Demands, demands, demands!

    • Its currently in alpha, as Jeff mentioned from the beginning of the article.

      If you want to try it, you will need to follow the official TouchPal account on Twitter. Testers will be selected by random, rules are subject to change.

      • Will Mason Moses

        Drat. I want.

      • I do too, haha. Gotta wait like everyone else, I guess 🙁

  • Chang in Charge

    Can’t wait iOS 8 is so close I keep reminding myself not to buy Cydia tweaks in the time being because i’ll be back on stock so soon

    • Aziel

      God, have mercy on us.

    • leart

      Your right jailbreaking is not worthing anymore, for me is to late, my main iphone is not jailbroken and from all those tweaks im using only zephyr on my older ios 6 devices..

      • R4

        Most of the ones you’ve bought get frequent updates. Half of the tweaks I have are still on iOS 5.1 and 6 lol.

      • leart

        Aha, your right, there are two reasons I don’t use them anymore, first I don’t like to use a jailbroken device anymore and second I don’t own a recent iphone 🙂

      • Chang in Charge

        Still need my jailbreak though my 5s is deep on tweaks no matter how minimalist I try to keep it I always slowly creep back to having a lot of tweaks. The thought of building on this new iOS update too is just O em gee. I can’t wait for an iOS 8 jailbreak.

  • Decio Arruda

    Jeff talking about Android again… Please stop@!

    • It was very relevant to the article, no?

      • David Gitman

        you are awesome jeff
        dont listen to him

      • andy

        Yeah, lol Decio u got REKT

      • Michael Edwards

        Knowing what the other companies are doing will help us know what were missing out on, instead of burying our heads in the sand and buying apple products blindly like an i-lemming.

      • Decio Arruda

        Yes but I hate when, specially in the podcast, you just go on about android and such… I know it’s your opinion and such but I did say Please.

    • GuyBey0ndC00L

      You stop trolling Jeff. I love when he brings up the com. It’s shows he’s human

  • Tony Trenkle Jr.

    Is the delay there because of the video or is that how touchpal works? Seemed like the word wouldn’t automatically appear you’d have to start typing something else first

    • Mike Colacone Saal

      Yeah I didn’t like that.

    • That’s how TouchPal works. It has its advantages in that you can backspace to cancel a word, but it takes some getting used to in practice.

  • Thiago Vaccaro

    Could not find it on the App Store

    • XZavier

      “Keep in mind that the TouchPal keyboard is still in an unreleased alpha state,”

    • MegaAce042

      Its In Alpha. you can follow touchpal and retweet their iOS 8 tweet.

  • XZavier

    Jeff do people just contact you to test things? Or do you ask them? How do you get access to so much stuff?!?!?!

    • Noah

      iDownloadBlog is pretty popular, so I’m sure that half the time Jeff would be contacted and asked to review the app/tweak. In exchange, the developer will probably offer a deal to cut the price down (or even free)…

  • “or should I say swipe”. Shouldn’t that be “Swype”? Or am I wrong?

    • Swype is just the name of a brand. There are several third-party keyboards that allow you to swipe on the keys, à la Swype.

  • How do they [Apple] plan on implementing these keyboards for distribution? will the have a Keyboard section in the App Store or will it come bundled with an app? Similar to how Fleksy currently does it?

    • I think it will have to be bundled with an app, but there will likely be a keyboard section in the App Store for those apps.

      • James Gunaca

        I wish it didn’t require an icon on the home screen…but I guess if that app serves as settings for the keyboard it’s not so bad. What do you think, Jeff?

  • Linton Findlay

    Can’t wait for a app stre version of swipe selection and swipe expander

    • Mike Colacone Saal

      There won’t be a swipe selection. I believe I read that you can’t move the cursor with the third party keyboards according to the terms by apple.

      • Noah

        There will be swipe, since it was included as an API in beta 4. Selection is not possible at this current time.

  • Blaqheart

    So Jeff…you officially gave up your S5?

    I’m an Apple guy through and through but could not let myself surrender the S5’s screen….the experience is no where close to Apple but I realized the screen on my 5S is so small that I was squinting the other morning when I woke up to read emails. This after using the S5 for weeks….

    • If your squinting to read emails you might want to get your eyes checked as I have fairly bad eyesight and even I have no trouble reading text on my 5s. Dynamic Type may also be of use to you to allow you to increase the text size systemwide for apps that support Dynamic Type…

      • mickey

        If only all apps supported dynamic text. I suspect Blaqheart may need reading glasses, however dynamic text + larger screen may eliminate the need for them, at least for quick reads.

  • Jake

    Jeff, how long did it take you to get builds once you were accepted to alpha and installed profile in test flight? I am going on two weeks, the instructions said it could take a while, just trying to get a feel for how long of a wait I’m in for. I’m pumped to try it.

  • Mike Colacone Saal

    Meh. I’ll wait for the hipjot / nin keyboard.

    • ARX8

      Well, it’s already available for jailbroken iPhone as a beta version and I’ve been using it for months

      • Mike Colacone Saal

        Oh I know. I’ve had it since March when it first released. The creator and I follow each other and DM from time to time. I even got to beta test nintype before it was released and he said I can beta test iOS 8 keyboard when he gets around to it since I have my udid registered(although by the time he gets to it it’ll probably be publicly released)

  • Domodo

    The homescreen app icon seems kind of redundant…
    Just creates more clutter

    • Well, that’s probably where settings/customization/etc may reside for the keyboard. All of this is subject to change, obviously, though.

      • Settings belong in the settings app. It’s useless having an app icon on the home screen that does nothing…

      • RarestName

        Then how else are you going to uninstall it? That’s my understanding.

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        Swipe to delete in the keyboard section?

      • Swipe-to-delete on the keyboard in the keyboard section of the settings app could work…

      • RarestName

        You see, that’s one of the problems that I’ve seen people have with Android.

        “How can I uninstall this? I installed it from the Play Store. Where’s its icon?”

      • Of course Android doesn’t have a tips app. Apple could just add a new tip along the lined of “Hey idiots you can uninstall keyboards from the keyboards section of the settings app”. To be honest though I don’t mind a bunch of useless app icons on my homescreen I just wish Apple would give me a way to hide them…

  • Dean Johnson

    Does anybody know a good swipe keyboard in Cydia? Like Touchpal? Or is there a tweak for Touchpal?

    • Noah

      SwipeSelection and SwipeSelection Pro are very popular choices.

      • RarestName

        I think you misunderstood his question.

    • RarestName

      Yes, just search for TouchPal on Cydia. The name is in Chinese.

  • Tom

    I want altkeyboard.

  • Mark Seah

    was an iphone fan until i switched. hate the fact that many tweaks of the iOS which makes it more user friendly or make iOS more powerful etc, are only available in Cydia ( must jailbreak )….Android have many of the minor tweaks i wanted without even the need for jail break….but i agree….the overall experience is still not as good / integrated as iOS.

  • $mõkiêlüv3

    I’ve got Swype keyboard from the day i jailbreak my iPhone 5s

  • marco1993

    Jeff using the 9:41 time

    • Noah

      Apple have now included the option to record your screen via QuickTime Player, it automatically fixes all the ugly items in the status bar i.e. WiFi, Carrier, battery percentage and time

  • ARX8

    Well, nin is the best keyboard I know. It’s jam packed with features and is only available as a beta version for jailbroken iPhones

  • ARX8

    Well @JeffBenjam:disqus, swype is nothing compared to nin. I’ve tried both and swype feels like something ancient after you use nin. Nin just reads your mind

  • GuyBey0ndC00L

    I don’t see TouchPal in the App Store. How can we get it.

  • Neat stuff, though I never got a hang of swipe…I still type faster the old tap-tap way.

    • RarestName

      Swiping is faster, while tapping is more accurate in my experience.

  • coLin

    Does it have other dictionaries? other than english??

  • brooks whiffen seale

    Im thinking of switching to a Galaxy s5.. Heres why i Wouldn’t

    1.iMessage. I use it on my phone, I use it on my mac, on my ipad, its amazing, and with iMessage supporting SMS on mac with the next release, its amazing.

    2. “It just works” The iPhone is well made, I am big aesthetics, Plus the actual operating system is awesome and i Love jailbreaking.

    why i would

    powerful phone, many features.

    what do y’all think?

    • Beat Modz

      I have a Galaxy s5, not really happy with it yet. Needs alot of improvements. The Apps that come stock are trash other than the messaging system but With the new Android L (Lemon Meringue Pie) it should get better. I suggest you wait and get a nexus 6. Trust me. My brother has a Nexus 5 and its way better and cheaper. So PLEASE DONT WASTE MONEY ON A GALAXY s5, wait for the nexus 6.

    • RarestName

      Only if you like TouchWiz and are willing to tweak it for maximum performance.

  • Michael Edwards

    In really looking forward to third party keyboards to. There are less reasons for me to Jailbreak. Jeff, in your opinion, will there be a keyboard with the Swipeselection swipe cursor function?

  • Bob

    Swype or gtfo.

    • Ishaan Malhotra

      Swiftkey has the highest users as well as ratings in the playstore

  • Ishaan Malhotra

    I hope a third party app for swipe selection is intriduced. I cant use touchpal for my language

  • Dan

    I can wait for SwiftKey

  • therealjjohnson

    Can a new keyboard add new emojis?

  • rorymbrown

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  • Tony Trenkle Jr.

    It might work for Mac, but I cant see it happening on iOS…I dont know though, I guess we’ll find out how open Apple really is.