I’ve been back on an iOS phone for a few months, but before that, I spent two years on either an Android or a Windows Phone device. While I had my iPhone, I had always thought that Apple had the most intuitive keyboard on any smartphone. The auto correct on it was almost flawless, and I hardly ever miss-typed a letter. The one thing however, that iOS is missing, is a built in Swype (or wordflow on Microsoft devices)-type keyboard.
I started to miss being able to slide my finger acorss the keyboard to spell my word out, without needing to type it out two-handed, like I do on my iPhone. It was fast and easy!
When I first switched back to iOS, I found myself messing up a lot. Hitting the delete button most of all, instead of the letter “m”. I found this to hinder my texting experience.
A little over a year ago, Apple started to allow third-party keyboards to exist on their mobile devices. After dealing with mistakes for a few weeks, I caved and downloaded my personal favorite, Swiftkey. If you are an Android user, this is probably one that you have used at least once in your Android experience. It’s better than the Swype keyboard built into the OS (in this user’s experience anyway), because it adapts to you.
It learns the words you use most when trying to predict what you’re trying to type. It changes its virtual layout (although you dont see it) to fit the way you drag your finger across the screen. Most of all, you can log into other accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail so it can use those services to see how you type as well.
Setting up a third-party keyboard on iOS isn’t as easy as on Android. I had to go into the app to get instructions. From there, you go into keyboards, add it and then have to give it full access. At that point, you’re good to go. Kind of. Go into the App of your choice and you’ll see the normal iOS keyboard. You have to press the little globe button at the bottom of the keyboard.
If you’re like me and have the emoji keyboard, you’ll have to press the abc button.
Finally, I had access to Swiftkey, and it was great! I was swyping away and I was loving it. The more I used it, the better it got, just like I remembered. The app even provided me with statistics on how it was aiding me in my typing experience.
I finished my typing and went into another app, excited to try it out on something else. I opened up Gmail and….the iOS keyboard???
Seems you have to repeat the process for bringing up the third-party keyboards in EVERY app! Not a deal breaker, but pretty annoying. Once you have it up though, it defaults to it every time.
One other cool feature of Swiftkey is the themes it has for its keyboards.
Just when I thought my prayers had been answered, and all my mistypes would be gone forever. I went to text my wife and had no keyboard. I had to go into settings and remove the Swiftkey to get a keyboard to show back up – I was very annoyed. After it happened a few times, I decided to remove it altogether and deal with the native keyboard. It seems that deep down iOS and third party keyboards don’t get along. Until this problem is fixed I won’t use Swiftkey, although I can’t wait to see it work right (*note* I only used Swiftkey, so I’m not sure if it’s an isolated incident).