Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS teaser black closeup

In my December 2014 preview of Next Keyboard I wrote the app had the potential to become “the first iOS keyboard done right”.

What started out as the most funded app project on Kickstarter by Toronto-based award-winning studio Tiny Hearts Apps has become a reality.

I’m pleased to report that Next Keyboard is now available for download in the App Store.

Rather than mindlessly pile features one on top of the other like many other developers do, Next enables efficient typing in a stylish environment that’s easy on the eyes, without distracting you from the task at hand.

It’s got everything you’ve come to expect from a software keyboard, including predictive typing, lightning fast editing, playful stickers and colorful themes, instant access to all the emojis you love, including stickers, and much more.

I’ve spent some quality hands-on time with Next Keyboard, here’s what I found.

“With a little help from Kickstarter and over 7,000 iPhone lovers, we’ve built Next, a keyboard made by iPhone lovers for iPhone lovers,” said developers.

Quick Cursor Swipe

Next Keyboard speeds up your typing with Quick Cursor Swipe, a feature we’re increasingly seeing in third-party iOS keyboards. Just hold and drag your finger across the Spacebar key to precisely position the cursor.

Super easy and efficient, no?

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS Quick Cursor

As you’re doing this, the app presents an enlarged view of what you’ve typed so far so it’s even easier to make quick edits and fix those misspellings.

Fast typing

Next Keyboard makes good use of gestures and employs some smart design choices to make prolonged typing as comfortable as possible. For starters, the clean layout is easy on the eyes, with clear Shift key graphics for on/off states (I’m looking at you, Apple!).

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS lower case and quick switching iPhone screenshot

You can long-tapp the period button next to the Spacebar key for quick access to the commonly used punctuation marks, which is really handy. I’m especially glad that gestures are not overused: they implemented gesture typing only when it makes sense. For instance, you can swipe the Backspace key to delete whole words, which feels very natural.

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS Swipe to delete 001

As for Next’s prediction and auto-correct engines, I’m pleased to report that they work as quickly and efficiently as SwiftKey’s. Small wonder, as most of developers’ time was spent on perfecting predictive typing.

The more you use Next, the more it should learn from your typing to suggest the words you use most. In many respects, the quality of typing on Next Keyboard is close to the experience provided by Apple’s stock QuickType keyboard.

Augmenting these features is subtle auditory feedback that creates a satisfactory effect as you’re pecking away on the keyboard. To get a better sense what Next Keyboard can and cannot do for you, check out a promotional video embedded below.

If you don’t see the video, watch it on YouTube.

Suggested emoji

Next Keyboard elevates the experience with one-tap access to emojis that are easier to scroll and suggested emojis as you type. For instance, try typing words like “sad”, “cry” or “smile” and see what happens.

If you want to replace a word with its corresponding emoji, just tap it. All told, Next includes over 1,400 emojis and integrates some playful stickers, such as tacos, dinosaurs and even an oversized poop.

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS Emojis 001

Emojis are accessed via a dedicated key, which reveals a scrollable panel of available characters that are grouped into categories, similar to Apple’s keyboard (yes, country flags are included). The emoji picker additionally provides quick access to stickers, of which there are sixty included in the initial release.

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS Suggested Emojis 001

I especially like Next’s huge emoji stickers for those moments when you really want to put a strong emphasis on your feelings.

Settings

The shell app for Next provides nicely animated tutorials to get you up to speed and includes a built-in themes and stickers store and several options depicted on the screenshot below.

Tapping the keyboard’s dedicated key left to Spacebar lets you switch to another system keyboard or you can choose to change various settings on the fly, which actually cancels the need to switch between Next and its shell app to customize it to your liking.

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS Settings 001

For instance, you can disable typing sounds, reset your dictionary, turn auto-correction and suggested emojis on and off, enable or disable several features related to punctuation handling and more, all without leaving the keyboard.

Themes

As is the norm these days, Next Keyboard supports themes for customizing the look and feel of typing. I cannot tell you how much I loathe graphics-rich themes so I’m extremely glad that themes in Next are lightweight and crisp, yet colorful.

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS Themes 001

The default dark keyboard shown top of post is my absolute favorite, but Next offers a range of colorful looks, ranging from blue and green to orange and more, so everyone should be able to find one to suit their personal tastes.

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS Swipe to delete 001

My only wish is the ability to cycle through available looks with a simple flick of my finger on the keyboard as it’s tiring to open the shell app just to dress up my keyboard in another theme. By the way, the built-in store found within the shell app will offer additional stickers and themes, both paid and free, at a later stage.

It isn’t perfect

I was overly impressed with Next Keyboard.

The app works surprisingly well and feels like a combination of Apple’s stock QuickType keyboard and SwiftKey. It isn’t perfect though.

For instance, the app sometimes stutter a bit when typing, which I’m told will be fixed in a future update along with “the next phase of our prediction engine and swipe typing.”

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS teaser 001

Speaking of the future, developers are planning to spin out Next as its own company, with the mission of “taking a stab at an AI-enabled future that will make it easier to connect with others and the world around us.”

Back to my quibbles.

I dislike that Next adds a space after a word if I use the quick cursor feature to go back and correct a typo. Also important, Next Keyboard is English-only initially and unsupported on iPads. Thankfully, future updates will add more languages and support for the iPad.

Wrapping it up

As far as comfortable typing and minimalist looks go, the initial version of Next is killing it.

The keyboard is functional, customizable and distinguishable from others in the App Store. As a cool bonus, I’m particularly pleased that Next doesn’t overwhelm me with a bevy of features I don’t need.

The app is focused and lightweight, like software keyboards should be. Above all, Next Keyboard makes me type more efficiently than before and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS smileys and Shift keys iPhone screenshot

While four bucks may be a bit steep price for a software keyboard, consider that Next Keyboard offers the full set of features that other keyboards typically lock behind dreaded In-App Purchases. And to sweetening the deal just a little bit more, all fourteen themes and a total of sixty sticker are provided at no charge to celebrate the launch.

Oh, and Next doesn’t need full access to let you enjoy everything it offers. Privacy freaks needn’t be concerned about Next logging their keystrokes on remote servers—the app doesn’t collect your personal data.

Next Keyboard 1.0 for iOS lower case and quick switching iPhone screenshot

In addition to Next Keyboard, Tiny Hearts Apps has been putting out some pretty impressive software for the iOS platform, including such apps as Wake Alarm (one of the best alarm clocks in the App Store) and Quick Fit (featured in an Apple ad).

Go ahead and check them out!

Next Keyboard is a collaborative effort between Tiny Hearts (Robleh Jama, Rob Chia, Quadri Oshibotu, Gabe Rozenberg and Corey Pollock) and Nermin Moufti and Marco Patricio who helped with branding and sound design.

Next Keyboard highlights

You’ll enjoy the following features of Next Keyboard:

  • Next Word Predictions and Autocorrect—Type less, say more. We predict what you’re trying to say before you say it. You could almost say our keyboard is reading your mind.
  • Quick Cursor for fast editing—Say goodbye to fumbling around to move the cursor. Now you can simply swipe across the spacebar and your cursor appears exactly where you want it.
  • 1400 Emojis—By the time you find the right emoji, you could have just typed how you feel. So we’ll suggest it for you as you type so it’s only one tap away.
  • Beautiful Themes—You want a keyboard that looks and feels as unique as you are. So let’s get you out of those greys and into some color.
  • Playful Stickers—Can’t express yourself with text? We’ve got you covered with custom designed playful stickers. Let the stickers do the talking for you.

As mentioned, future updates will enable even faster typing experience while adding iPad support, more languages and so forth.

Availability

Next Keyboard, a 47.1-megabyte download, is compatible with any iPhone and iPod touch with iOS 8.1 or later and fully optimized for the iPhone 5/5s/5c, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screens.

Grab Next Keyboard for $3.99 in the App Store.

  • NeftyCorrea

    finally been waiting for this keyboard for ever

  • Ds

    bought it… still prefer Nintype’s peck/swiping style to this. but I will admit I do like the limited settings on Next compared to Nintype.If you could find a way to mate the 2 you’d have a pretty killer keyboard in my opinion. Only problem I have with Next is for some reason I cannot get all the sticker packs to install such as the “Don Juan” ones.

  • If this supported swiping I’d definitely buy it. It ticks all the right boxes apart from the lack of swiping which I’ve grown accustomed to via the Swype keyboard.

    • Alex

      they will be adding in swipe feature soon they said, its on Next Keyboard’s twitter

    • Mark Tesch

      Give it another year.

    • Joey

      Touchpal. And it’s free.

  • Ridhwaan Abdul Aziz

    Purchased it without realizing the lack of swipe-typing support! A real bummer… Would’ve definitely been the perfect keyboard. Have become way too reliant on swipe-typing. Tapping feels like it belongs in the past.

    I’m pretty sure the initial promo video for Next Keyboard included swipe-typing? 🙁

    Here’s hoping it’s introduced in the near future!

    • Yes, it’ll be introduced in a future update. They had to remove it because it wasn’t ready for prime time.

  • Manuel Molina

    Wow, a keyboard that works in iOS that isn’t stock? I must be in the future.

  • TotallySerious

    The question that I (and hopefully others have) is: Where is the swipe-to-type and the long press-the-keyboard-to-get-access to numbers page?

    • jaysoncopes

      He said that swipe-to-type is on the way, but long press for numbers wasn’t mentioned. Maybe write a review or send an email?

      • TotallySerious

        Yeah I might just send them an email asking them what’s up

  • That_Fruitarian

    You should have put the ‘$3.99’ price tag in the title so I wouldn’t have wasted my time getting excited over this.

    • :D

      Lol I’ve built the habit of checking prices before reading app reviews

      • That_Fruitarian

        Lol… Nice!!

    • Guy

      Yes that price it pretty high. If Apple would simply fix 3rd party keyboard issues. All keyboards might be worth using

  • Sebastián Junca 

    I´ve been waiting a long time for this, but i´ve found that third party keyboards in general aren´t working well on iOS 8.4.1 they sometimes disappear fro installed keyboards or you have to close the app and open it again in order to use the third party keyboard. Do you think this is a system bug or just a problem with the keyboards itself.

    • It’s Apple’s fault for not improving third party keyboards.

      • Sebastián Junca 

        Yeah that’s what I thought. Guess its better to wait until they fix this. It’s really frustrating to pay for a keyboard and not be able to use it as expected.

  • But the real question is, does it work properly without the stock keyboard popping up every few seconds?

  • besrate hogsa

    it looks good
    but for me it is a no go
    dictation button missing

  • Ron

    The settings screen is totally blank for me. No options appear at all.

  • Yujin

    Seems ok. But I need a multi-language support so I don’t have to keep changing languages on my keyboard which is very annoying

  • askep3

    “In many respects, the quality of typing on Next Keyboard is close to the experience provided by Apple’s stock QuickType keyboard.”

    If the keyboards so similar to the stock keyboard, why should I buy it? I’m on the edge of buying it but I don’t want it if it’s just the same keyboard with color themes, does it have better prediction than the stock keyboard?

    • Joey

      Stock keyboard + SwipeSelection. Oh shi-

      • askep3

        Exactly, so what’s the point?

    • The quality/polish is comparable to the stock. If you read the review, it has clear and distinct differences that stock doesn’t offer.

      • askep3

        I see, thanks for the clarification, now I gotta decide if spacebar editing (or whatever it’s called) and stickers are what I want, thanks!

  • Gabriel Anaya

    Very disappointed by the lack of swipe typing and switching between themes with a click of the finger, but ever thing else about the keyboard is pretty satisfying. Feels quick and smooth as the stock keyboard. There is still some occasional crashing but it’s just launched. Once all these have been fixed in the upcoming updates, then this keyboard will be perfect for me.

  • Dante Robinson

    I agree about the dictation thing. Sinks Apple won’t allow this. Just a FYI the QuickDictation tweak will give you some limited dictation functionality on 3rd party keyboards. I haven’t tested it with Next, but it should work. The tweak needs some work and is an imperfect solution, but it’s better than nothing for now.

  • Phil Randle

    love this keyboard. Doesn’t have any of the bulk the other keyboards have, I had swift key and often didn’t use the swiping and I MISSED the cursor control of swipeselection, this in my opinion is better then swipe selection, but I really hope that Apple brings back the iOS 9 version that rumoured for force touch on the 6S, that was a great implementation.

  • Technocrz!

    Never going to pay for a keyboard on ios, i have tried so many of them but they all fail to showup when u try to send a msg to anyone, then u close app and sometimes i had to restart the device, they are very unreliable.

  • Iuri Dos Santos Cunha

    Question: Does the swiping to move the cursor only happen within the Next app? Or does it work in third party apps too like Whatsapp and whatnot? Because it’s not demonstrated anywhere and I want to know before I buy it

  • Joey

    4 dollars for a mediocre keyboard. Mad.

  • Matt

    I’ve been waiting for this keyboard for a year, checking at least once a month for updates, and it’s $4. Come on. We’ve waited so long and that’s how you repay us? Awesome keyboard, but not cool.

  • Didn’t like it because it can’t keep up with how fast I write. I need swipe but haven’t found anything that works well and doesn’t require full access.

    • Joey

      Touchpal is the best swipe keyboard I tried. And it’s free.

      • I’ll give it a look, thx!

  • Mike Colacone Saal

    I love the nintype keyboard.

  • Olek

    English only? :/

  • Gary T

    I’m conflicted on the price. On one hand $4 really isn’t that much and when you consider how many they are likely to sell, times $4 each, it’s probably not making anyone rich. However, considering what you can get on the AppStore for $.99, $4 is a lot for a keyboard. I think the AppStore has trained us into expecting everything to be $.99 which is of course a bit unrealistic.

    That said, my main issue and why I won’t buy it isn’t the price but the lack of dictation. My understanding is that it’s not possible for a third party keyboard to have the dictation button due to a limitation imposed by Apple but it’s something I use a lot so a keyboard without it doesn’t work for me. Hopefully Apple will be a bit less restrictive at some point.

  • It looks and sounds great but I think the keys are too small, even for my averaged sized hands on an iPhone 6. Seems like it may have been made for iPhone 6+ users. I’ll keep testing but not sure I’ll keep it.

  • Guy

    Too bad 3rd party keyboards Suck on any form of iOS 8.

  • am with the stock

  • iOS Kush

    I’ll keep my regular keyboard for $3.99.

  • iByron

    I bought because I like Tiny Hearts’ work (Wake is *the* best alarm clock for iOS), and because if you buy now all themes and sticker sets are free or just require a tweet. I have confidence that this will eventually grow into a very useful keyboard alternative.

    From a keyboard, I need AZERTY or Dvorak layout, I need German and French support (preferably at the same time as English), and of course I need iPad support. Plus, I use swiping more than I thought I would, so I really want that. I’ll keep this on my phone, but it will be a while before it suplants SwiftKey for me.

  • Simon Erik

    att-iphoneunlocking is able to unlock your AT&T phones with only less than 24h. Their facebook page is fantastic as well!!