Themeboard review: iOS 8 keyboard with gorgeous themes, unique Emoji bar, auto-correct and more

By , Dec 4, 2014

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (teaser 002)

There most certainly is no shortage of downloadable iOS 8 keyboards in the App Store, so much so that the proliferation of soft-keyboards makes it virtually impossible for us to cover each and every one that hits the Apple platform.

On the other hand, themable keyboards like CoolKey, a keyboard for the colorful, are few and far between.

Customization matters to an awful lot of people and there’s admittedly a void here than needs filling. That’s where Themeboard jumps in.

Created by Germany-based Taphive, the brains behind such apps as TodoMovies that we reviewed back in March, this app is an advanced iPhone and iPad keyboard with a built-in repository of wonderfully designed themes by some of the best designers around.

Theme board sports a unique Emoji/Kaomoji bar and has plenty of features that users have come to expect from Apple’s default keyboard like auto-correction, Caps lock, slide-shift to capitalize, quick delete with three speeds, text predictions, custom shortcuts and more.

Read on for the full review of this feature-packed keyboard.

To get started, you must first install the Themeboard keyboard in order to use it and experiment with the themes. Just go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards.

Next, tap Add New Keyboard, tap Themeboard on the list of third-party keyboards below and then “Themeboard-Themeboard”. Finally, flip the “Allow Full Access” switch to ON and you’re good to go.

As a side-note, I’m a big fan of the app’s thoughtful, transparent and unobtrusive handling of promotional messages via Push Notifications. As shown below, you’re kindly asked upfront whether you’d like to receive a single Push Notification per week to keep yourself in the loop with new themes and designers, if any.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (Notification message 001)

With that off my back, I should point out that Themeboard sports a unique, quick-access Emoji/Kaomoji bar which does away with the switching back and forth between character and emoji keyboards. Instead, the bar co-exists with the rest of the keyboard allowing you to continue typing without the need to switch context to enter an emoji.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (teaser 004)

To hide or show the Emoji bar, just tap once on the keyboard’s standard Globe icon, which would normally cycle through your available keyboards. Don’t worry, you can still switch to your other keyboards by tapping and holding the Globe icon on the keyboard like you normally would.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (emoji bar animated GIF 001)

I was also appreciative of the fact that I could rearrange the Emoji bar from the Themeboard app.

Even though the app doesn’t support adding emojis yet, this feature should be enable in a future update, Taphive tells me. Speaking of keyboards, it’s interesting that Themeboard supports many standard features of Apple’s default keyboard and then some more.

This includes stuff like auto-correct, slide-shift for quick capitalization, Caps lock, quick delete with three speeds and even text predictions, something the vast majority of iOS 8 keyboards don’t have yet.

Moving on to the themes…

To browse the themes, tap the Themes button found alongside the bottom in the Themeboard app. This is where designers make their themes available to iOS users. You can browse and download themes, learn more about their designers and connect with them via email or social media.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)

Tap any theme to read the description provided by its designer. Or, tap a designer’s name to check out their profile and ways to connect. It’s pretty great that each and every theme is designed for all iPhone and iPad sizes, ranging from the four-inch iPhone 4s and all the way up to the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

Having tested plenty of these on both my iPad Air and iPhone 6 Plus, I’m happy to report that themes look fantastic and feel natural rather than being clunky, blown up versions of their four-inch counterparts.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)

Downloadable themes come from some of the best designers and illustrators from the U.S., Germany, Spain, Czech Republic and Switzerland, with new ones being added on a regular basis.

And if that’s not enough, there are a few exclusive themes from the likes of The European Space Agency ESA/Hubble; Tapity, an Apple Design Award winner and creators of Grades, Languages and Hours; Radiantlabs, the studio behind the gorgeous Living Earth weather app; and Noidentity, creators of Next and MoneyBook apps.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (teaser 001)

I can’t stress enough how gorgeously done most of the themes are so best thing I let a couple example screenshots do the talking. Here are a few themes, as seen on an iPhone and iPad.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (keyboard showcases 001)

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (keyboard showcases 002)

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (keyboard showcases 003)

Some world-class keyboard artwork there!

Tap hive tells me they wanted to create a place where the best designers and illustrators from all over the world could create and publish high-quality keyboard themes for iOS and boy does Themeboard deliver.

Find something you like? Hit the Download button. Here I am checking out the intriguing Silver Mark theme inspired by Apple’s aluminum keyboard for the Mac.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (keyboard showcases 004)

Once downloaded, you can immediately test the theme by hitting the keyboard icon in the top-right. As show further below, this will bring up the virtual keyboard allowing you to test the keyboard without switching apps, provided you have activated the Themeboard keyboard as described at the beginning of the article.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (keyboard showcases 005)

Like on the physical Apple keyboard, the orange LED on the Caps lock key turns green when activated  — pretty sweet!

I’ve had a great experience testing Themeboard in the run-up to its release. Unlike some other third-party iOS 8 keyboards, Themeboard is fast, fluid and a joy to use.

Auto-correct and suggestions work precisely as you’d expect. It’s cool that I can double tap a suggestion to automatically insert it followed by a period. Also, if you type  “LOL” or “:D”, the laughing emoji automatically appears among the suggestions.

Next, auto-capitalization doesn’t just work on new lines or special characters such as “!”, “?” and “.” (followed by space), but also when deleting words. And tapping a punctuation (,.?!-/) automatically inserts a correction followed by the punctuation.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (keyboard showcases 007)

There’s more: double spaces get replaced with a period and the keyboard smartly puts only a space if you type a period or space before.

Folks who rely on custom keyboard shortcuts defined in Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts will be pleased to learn that Themeboard automatically imports your Apple keyboard shortcuts for use with any theme.

I’m a big fan of context-sensitive keyboards and Themeboard doesn’t disappoint in that regard: the keyboard automatically switches to an appropriate layout when typing in web addresses, numbers and filling email fields.

AS for the Shift key, there’s more to it than meets the eye. For example, if you tap-hold the Shift key then slide your finger, you’ll enable capitalization. To capitalize a single character, simply tap-hold the Shift key then slide to the character, like with the Apple keyboard.

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (keyboard showcases 006)

There’s even an optional Shift Adjust Keys Case feature in the app’s settings that changes characters on buttons to uppercase when the Shift key is pressed. Rounding it all off, the Caps Lock key gets automatically turned off when switching to the number pad.

And check out that eye-candy app icon!

Themeboard 1.0 for iOS (app icon, full size)

Theme board is available at no cost in the App Store.

The app requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with iOS 8 or later. Additional information and tidbits are available at the Themeboard website.

As noted above, the vast majority of themes are free, but some will cost you money via In-App Purchases.

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  • Sheyenne

    I cant find it in the app store….

    • Anmol Malhotra

      Awwww. So sad. :/

    • Jason Baroni

      There is a link in the article above. Read it…

    • Chocolatewe

      its not in the uk app store 🙁

  • Anmol Malhotra

    This is the keyboard i’ve been waiting for. 😀

    • Jason Baroni

      Me too! Swype has just a few good themes, but this one is the ideal background experience.

  • yiiidddooooo

    i got a lovely little keyboard for my iPhone but third party keyboards still don’t work properly for me.. i got like 4/5 installed

  • TwinSon

    Awesome. Getting this ASAP. Went back to the stock keyboard after getting tired of the crap that is SwiftKey.

  • Technocrz!

    Third party keyboards are awesome addition in iOS 8, but none of them actually works perfectly, swype & swiftkey most of the time fails to showup in iMessage, it’s pretty annoying, added so many words of my language in them and finally today I got rid of both, giving this one a try

    • TwinSon

      I swear 60-70% of the time, Switfkey does NOT WORK. Closing an re-opening an app to get the keyboard to work became second nature, which is ridiculous.

      • Dan

        I agree I never liked Swiftkey on iOS, seems to work better on android though, maybe needs more time to work out the kinks

      • TwinSon

        It was amazing on Android. Back when I had an HTC M7 it was literally the first thing I installed on my phone. Boggles my mind how poorly translated this keyboard has become when crossing platforms.

      • Technocrz!

        Yes that’s ridiculous I don’t Know why  isn’t taking any actions against them, every one was complaining about apple being closed system, they just opened a little and they are not taking any advantage

      • TwinSon

        Ya the glaring hole in ios8 is how poorly 3rd party keyboards work. That should be near the top of Apple’s priority list.

      • Dan

        maybe they are not opened enough so the developer is having problems?

  • Ryan Bartsch

    This looks awesome! But will have to download it to see…

  • MS

    Installed and allowed full access but when I open the keyboard, it keeps saying Permission Required and to allow full access…

    • Chris Buck

      Mine did to and did a respring and whoola, it works and does replace 2 other tweaks (blueboard/showcase). MorePredict does not work with it but fine with that.

  • Technocrz!

    I don’t see Makpack, why?

  • Carlos T.

    Swipeselection + Themeboard? 🙁

  • Preben Faarkrog Hansen

    Giving the creator full access to your SMS….

    • Ex mea sententia

      I installed it and saw that as well. #Deleted

  • Diego Milano

    Not bad, some themes are a bit too colorful or overkilled with details, whereas others are nice and elegant. My only concern is that I’m using SwipeExpander and SwipeSelection and NO keyboard can support those other than the stock one.

    • TwinSon

      Space Theme is legit. and I feel your pain on Swipe Selection.

      • Jamessmooth

        Space is what I’m using too. It’s great. No swipe Selection might be a deal breaker for me. Got too used to using it!

      • Diego Milano

        Oh man, I do like Space Theme quite a lot, indeed, and I haven’t even tried it. I’ll get my hands on this during the weekend, but like I said, losing SwipeSelection AND SwipeExpander is tragedy. Maybe those tweaks should be updated so that somehow they get to work with other keyboards?

  • Courtney Macfarlane

    Awesome.. Bought a keyboard theme after downloading the app and It doesnt even show up, after doing everything as told.

  • Not working on my ip6 8.1 jailbroken. Always asking for full control even if I enabled it already. 🙁

    • tiltdown

      me too any fix?

  • RookFlair

    Post is obviously paid for. Don’t fall for their tricks

    • Merman123

      App is free. Most themes are free. Stop complaining.

  • InfinitePlusOne

    Nothing is good as default apple keyboard.

  • Mike

    This is pretty cool…but it is a nonstarter if it does not have access to the mic in the keyboard layout. And I know that apple does not allow this API to thrid party developers.

  • Ian Leon

    Cool App.

  • perfect but i need qwertz layout… 🙁

  • Melma

    Looks nice

  • Toon

    only english language..

  • mlee19841

    Removed it. It needs full access and can transmit any data you type!!!

    • Latrese

      Like what? It reverts back to the apple keyboard for me when entering any kind of password…

  • Chris Buck

    I would LOVE to see this as a Cydia tweak as well with the MIC icon back (use that a lot to send a text) and SwipeSelection and holding the period (.) to make it bring up .com and such to work and be more convenient:-)

    EDIT: you can quickly hold the globe icon and it will bring back the Apple stock keyboard to allow mic icon (voice to text), SwipeSelection/MorePredict/.com from holding period key.

  • Mark Tesch

    Wow, that was one of the longest articles about a custom keyboard ever!

  • Templar

    Like the themes and all not working on my iphone 5s though dont know whats the problem

  • Santa dp

    This doesn’t seem to allow using other keyboards!!!

  • salvador_mayorga

    No Spanish, gotta pass for now.

  • wow, you guys reviewed this and not Nintype keyboard…

  • Dave Newcomb

    Tried it out. Looks nice, but as others have said, 3rd party keyboards tend to be slow and balky. Finally uninstalled and am currently using Bloard, SwipeSelection and ShowCase. Keyboard now looks nice, is very responsive, and editing is a breeze.

    • Ex mea sententia

      This is my setup as well.

  • Walter White

    No azerty tough 🙁

  • Sequoia Murray

    I love it!

  • Tom

    Without Mic access, this is pretty useless. The keyboards are awesome, but you’ve got to be able to voice type. Is there any chance this will be a future addition?

  • Only if SwipeSelectionn was compatible with this awesome keyboard app…

    iWish

  • kriss1313

    The keys sometimes get stuck in “up” position, is laggy and has no option to disable small caps.(ios 9.2, iphone5s)
    Too bad has some nice free themes, but small caps is just killing me.