Swype, Fleksy and SwiftKey working on custom iOS 8 keyboards as we speak

iOS 8 QuickType (teaser 001)

In announcing iOS 8 and Yosemite yesterday, Apple dedicated some stage time to highlighting a new system-wide keyboard with context-aware predictive typing suggestions, called QuickType. But Apple also wooed developers by relaxing its rules to permit users to install third-party keyboards distributed through the App Store when iOS 8 officially releases this Fall.

Needless to say, makers of popular Android keyboards jumped with joy. The likes of Swype, Fleksy and SwiftKey have immediately confirmed they will be releasing their software keyboards for iOS 8…

According to a statement Swype and SwiftKey gave to Re/code, their respective soft-keyboards for iOS 8 are coming.

“I think it’s obviously a wonderful day for anyone who wants to be productive and use iOS devices,” said Joe Braidwood, chief marketing officer for SwiftKey.

“We believe we’ve built a great product that’s made it easier to type on touchscreens, and we’ve got a great community of Android users to prove it. We can’t wait to extend that to iOS. Ultimately, it means people have more choice, and we’re very excited about that.”

Swype will also be joining the iOS party with its own app, Re/code noted.

“Not surprisingly, I couldn’t be more excited to bring Swype to iOS users,” said Aaron Sheedy, vice president of product marketing at Swype, in a phone interview.

“Our keyboard has been deployed on a billion devices across the world over the last five years, and that’s allowed us to build up a great language model, not only using our own technology, but also learning from our users, so our accuracy is quite good.”

SwiftKey, which currently offers an SDK app makers can use to enable its keyboard, took to Twitter to confirm work on a custom keyboard for iOS 8.

They stopped short of detailing what implications, if any, for the Fleksy SDK iOS 8 creates.

According to Re/code, SwiftKey’s iOS 8 keyboard should include all of the features found on its Android counterpart.

That includes SwiftKey Cloud that keeps your personal predictions and dictionary additions in the cloud for syncing among devices. Apple’s own QuickType keyboard doesn’t sync data or send keystrokes to the Internet.

“Your conversation data is kept only on your device, so it’s always private,” cautions Apple on the iOS 8 QuickType webpage. Apple allows custom keyboards to ask user for a permission to access the network, though iOS 8 will disable this capability by default.

The webpage also features the following image Apple’s software engineering chief put up during yesterday’s keynote, which appears to resemble a SwiftKey keyboard in iOS 8.

iOS 8 Keyboard (SwiftKey 001)

The webpage notes:

Swipe rather than type, or go old school with the classic keyboard layout. For the first time, iOS 8 opens up the keyboard to developers.

And once new keyboards are available, you’ll be able to choose your favorite input method or layout systemwide.

In addition to QuickType and custom keyboards, iOS 8 includes support for Indian, Tagalog, Irish Gaelic and Slovenian keyboards as well as a brand new Braille keyboard for direct 6 dot braille input (this one I have to see).

Raise hands who will be trying out and/or using custom keyboards in iOS 8 instead of Apple’s stock one?