Third party keyboards have been on Android for years and have finally come to Apple’s iPhone in its newest iOS 8 update. The amount of third party keyboards on Android is enormous while iOS is offering just a handful at the moment. SwiftKey and Swype are two of the notables currently on both Android and iOS (with a shout out to Flexsy). All three of these keyboards work brilliantly on almost any Android device on the market. SwiftKey is always my default on Android. So, I was pretty excited to get a swiping type keyboard on my iPhone as it was one of the main things I’ve missed about Android.
After installing SwiftKey, Swype and Fleksy and taking them for a spin on my iPhone 5s, I was very pleased at the onset. I finally could swipe on iOS! After a few days now of switching between them and testing them in all the apps I use daily, I have come to one conclusion. Third party keyboards need a lot of help on iOS 8. Fleksy seemed to perform the best out of the three, but it doesn’t have a swiping action, which is what I really wanted. SwiftKey and Swype both are amazing keyboards but they don’t always play nice with certain apps. For example, using the Google+ app I found SwiftKey constantly erasing my attempts at tagging (or +1ing) someone into posts. Both keyboards would mysteriously disappear when opening apps and never appear until I closed the app completely and restarted it. Replying to text messages via the quick notifications never worked right either. 90% of the time the keyboard never appeared.
It was all very frustrating. I really want third party keyboards to work on the iPhone, and they do to an extent. But there is much work to be done to make this a flawless experience. Former Android users such as myself will notice the performance, or lack thereof, of these keyboards. I was actually more impressed with Apple’s new stock keyboard for iOS8. Not only is it nicely designed, but the predictive word feature works very well. I found myself typing much less as the keyboard already had word suggestions for me to choose from. I sure hope the third party keyboard makers find a way to optimize the experience on iOS 8. Swiping is something I’d like to have back. But for now, the stock keyboard is the better experience and that’s coming from someone who loves alternative keyboards!