HolidayBuyer's Guide

The new keyboards you'll love for iOS 8

Now that you can swap out the default keyboard on your iPhone and iPad, check out these awesome alternatives.

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Apple's stock keyboard got a makeover in iOS 8 , adding predictive typing and a new layout. But if you're not happy with the default keyboard, you (finally) have the chance to change it.

With iOS 8, Apple is finally letting you swap the stock on-screen keyboard with an alternative keyboard that will work throughout the operating system. In the past, you'd only be able to use a different keyboard inside a dedicated app, and not anywhere else on your iPhone or iPad. Androids have had a this option for years, and now iOS users get the chance to use an alternative keyboard with third party apps.

It's not surprising then that after years of honing their apps on Android, the top keyboard app developers have jumped at the chance to make their iOS debuts. These options offer plenty of appealing features, including super-fast typing, intelligent predictions, and designs that you can personalize.

If you need help installing a new keyboard for your iPhone, CNET's Jason Cipriani can help. And for more helpful iOS 8 tips, be sure to check out our complete guide to iOS 8.

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Photo by Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

SwiftKey, Free

Well loved in the Android community, SwiftKey was one of the first companies to announce it would build an iOS keyboard. The app is lauded for its predictive-typing prowess, learning from your writing style and getting smarter the more you use it. It also incorporates a lot of flair with colorful skins, emoji, and multiple keyboard layouts. The apps comes with two free themes to start.

SwiftKey launched an iOS note-taking app earlier in 2014, and now its predictive typing keyboard is available system-wide in iOS 8. You can either tap the screen to type, or swipe your finger around to touch each letter. As you select each letter, SwiftKey will offer up suggestions for words. Then, after you select a word, it will show the next word it thinks you might want to type. For example, if you type "I love" it will suggest "you" in the prediction bar above the keyboard.


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Photo by Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Swype, 99 cents

Gesture-based keyboard Swype is now available for iPhones and iPads, and it offers a new way to type. Swype goes back several years to the early days of Android. It was one of the first keyboards to let you drag your finger around on the screen, connecting the letters in a word, to type, instead of pecking at the screen. Now that feature is popular in many keyboard apps, but Swype cornered the market first.

Swype, which is owned by voice dictation company Nuance, also lets you dictate your emails or messages instead of typing. The app ships with five themes which change the look and feel of the keyboard, and can be used in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.


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Photo by Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Fleksy, 99 cents

Like Swiftkey, Fleksy is known for its predictive-typing features, which try to understand what you want to type before you even tap the screen. Fleksy also emphasizes speed, using gestures to help you move quickly from one word to the next. It's even earned the title "world's fastest keyboard" from Guinness World Records.

Other features include both free and paid colorful themes, emoji, support for 40 languages, and multiple keyboard layouts. Fleksy even has an accessibility feature aimed at visually impaired users, and you can resize the keyboard to fit your fingers.


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Photo by Ginger Software

Ginger Keyboard, Free

Ginger takes a different approach than the others on this list by helping you improve your grammar and writing style as you type. Beyond simple predictions, the keyboard is packed with tools to proofread, check your grammar, find synonyms, rephrase awkward sentences, and translate texts into other languages. There's also a dictionary that you can customize with names, locations, slang, and unique words. For now, Ginger Keyboard is only available in English, but the company plans to add new languages in the future.

Like other keyboard apps, Ginger has pre-installed colorful themes, and you can even create your own. The app is slated to hit the App Store in late September, and you can sign up to get updates on Ginger's website.


Honorable mentions

The list above is just a slice of the best the keyboard apps now available for iOS, but there are a few others that deserve a shout-out One is Minuum , a minimalist keyboard available for $1.99 (£1.49, AU$2.49) that doesn't crowd your screen, yet is still easy to type with. TouchPal X has been available as an iOS app for a few years, and now you can use the predictive keyboard throughout your phone. Finally, just for fun, PopKey is a keyboard for GIFs that's coming soon. Instead of letter keys, there's a grid of GIFs that you can send in a message or email.