iOS keyboard to gain additional languages and scripts, job posts indicate

iOS 7 (keyboard 001)

Whenever I find myself entangled in another Android vs. iOS debate, Android’s liberalized keyboard is unmistakably brought up as a key argument playing to Google’s favor. Indeed, for the most part the iOS keyboard has remained unchanged throughout the years, sans a few improvements here and there.

That will change when iOS 7 comes this Fall as it makes the iOS keyboard smarter by introducing black and white theme, enhanced auto-correct that can fix misspellings in a combination of words and a few other small tweaks. While there are no signs of Apple opening up the iOS keyboard to third-party developers anytime soon, new job ads indicate the company is working on adding support for additional languages and writing systems…

The job listing spotted by Jordan Kahn of 9to5Mac reveals that Apple is actively looking to add engineers to “work closely with international teams and native speakers to accommodate all the world’s script systems.”

The job description mentions (emphasis mine):

The iPhone and iPad keyboards revolutionized the way that people use their mobile devices to communicate, and we’re only getting started!

“The keyboard architecture is constantly evolving as we continue to innovate and introduce breakthrough text input mechanisms for millions of users worldwide,” teases an ad for an engineer on Apple’s keyboard and text team.

For what it’s worth, Apple previously said iOS 7 will bring “a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary, and improved Chinese input including handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters”.

iOS 7 (keyboard 002)

iOS currently supports more than fifty languages and input methods, but there are still parts of the world where a localized keyboard with spell checker remains absent so Apple is probably looking to fill those holes going forward.

While Siri partner Nuance hinted at iOS keyboard discussions with Apple, there are no immediate indications of Apple’s willingness to adopt the popular Nuance-made Swype for Android keyboard in iOS 7.

At the same time, Android’s SwiftKey maker TouchType opined in an interview with AllThingsD that Apple will have to open up keyboard access in iOS sooner than later.

“The most obvious API for them to open is the keyboard, because it is the greatest weakness,” TouchType’s marketing boss Joe Braidwood  said.

And should Apple decide to open up the iOS keyboard, his company would port SwiftKey for Android over to iOS in “a matter of a few months,” he said.

Which brings me to my question of the day: are you satisfied with the stock iOS keyboard experience relative to Android? And if not, how would you improve the experience if you were Apple?