Microsoft has acquired SwiftKey reports are probably great news for enterprise users hoping to coalesce around Office-compatible solutions for their mobile strategy, but some iPhone users may want to learn what alternative keyboards exist.
(Others may wonder at the significance of so much cash being spent on a mobile device keyboard app, until they recognize this is all about acquiring the data people need with which to develop AI).
TextExpander 3, $4.99
This is a fantastic solution for the creation of long, complex or repetitive messages on iOS. The keyboard enables custom abbreviations for long snippets of text, but these can be far more complex than the ones you can build for yourself in the iPhone’s Shortcuts section in Settings. Addresses, URLs, email signatures, and form letters can all be abbreviated and you can sync existing TextExpander snippers from your Mac via Dropbox or iCloud Drive.
SwiftKey uses artificial neural networks to predict what you are typing based on what you have written before. It will connect with your social networks to learn your typing habits and will finish words before you type them to speed things up. The app was downloaded over a million times in the US on first release in 2014
This keyboard lets you type by sliding your finger across the keys, rather than tapping them. The software figures out which letters you want to type even if your fingers slip, and lets you invoke alternative keyboard symbols and accents by simply pressing and holding the key. The numeric keyboard is a useful addition.
This colorful alternative keyboard hosts its own predictive text engine which you invoke by pressing the Space bar. It offers gestures, auto-correction, text prediction, and size options. You can configure the keyboard easily and the developers offer a range of additional themes, emoji and other items for in-app purchase.
This handy keyboard app lets you sketch pictures and send them via a messaging app, choosing colors and erasing errors. DrawType also incorporates its own keyboard for typing.
Don’t be put off by the price, this is an incredibly useful alternative keyboard that automatically translates what you type into other languages. 80 languages are currently supported and Slated works with iMessage and most popular messaging services. It will also translate passages of text.
Like SwiftKeys, this smart keyboard learns your writing habits and supports autocorrect and word recommendations. iPhone 6S Plus owners use this because it’s one of the best ways to type one-handed on a larger display. That’s because the entire keyboard shrinks into a single line of stacked letters you can easily access using your thumbs – great when used in conjunction with Reachabilty.
Ginger Page Writing App, $3.99
This is a powertool for writers on iOS, offering spell check, language translation, synonyms, phrases of the day, a personal dictionary and more. As a keyboard it watches what you write to deliver contextual grammar and spelling corrections and even tries to improve your writing with smart contextual suggestions to help get your point across.
HangKeys, free (bonus app)
Not really a full scale keyboard alternative, but fun all the same, HangKeys lets you play hangman using your iPhone and its Messages app. It works in the exact same way as the traditional game.
If this collection has ignited interest in using alternative keyboards on your iOS device here is how to install and use them:
1/ Download the alternative keyboard you hope to use.
2/ Go to Settings>General>Keyboard>Add New Keyboard on your iPhone.
3/ Choose the keyboard you downloaded
4/ When you type you can switch between keyboards by pressing the globe icon.
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