iOS 8 marks the first time ever that Apple will allow iPhone and iPad owners to install third-party keyboards of their choosing. AppleInsider offers readers a first look at the process of installing, enabling and using alternative keyboards in iOS 8.
Keyboard makers TouchPal provided an alpha copy of their forthcoming keyboard for iOS 8 on Friday, and the video above shows how users will go about enabling the keyboard once it’s installed on their device. First, a third-party application must be downloaded from the iOS App Store, which then adds a new keyboard option in the iOS Settings application, under “General,” then “Keyboard.”
Installed keyboards show up under their own section entitled “Third-Party Keyboards.” This also comes with a disclaimer that reads: “When using one of these keyboards, the keyboard can access all the data you type.”
Apple also offers a quick link to further details about third-party keyboards and privacy. However, as of the second beta of iOS 8, only placeholder text is in place, and no warnings are displayed when a keyboard is enabled.
After the keyboard has been turned on, users can open any app that uses a virtual keyboard. Once the keys are on the screen, simply press the “globe” button at the bottom to switch to an alternatively installed keyboards.
Users can also choose to delete the default iOS “QWERTY” English keyboard if they so choose. Doing so would make it possible to have the third-party keyboard of the user’s choosing the only one available when a virtual keyboard pops up.
The TouchPal keyboard tested by AppleInsider on Friday allows sliding input, which means users can guide their fingertip over the letters they wish to use and the keyboard will intelligently interpret what word they might mean. The keyboard also offers quick access to numbers — as can be seen in the video above, simply sliding a finger up from the top row of letters quickly inputs a corresponding number. Quick access to symbols sucha s “@”, “?” and “!” is also available in the bottom row.
In addition to TouchPal, Fleksy, SwiftKey and Swype have all announced they will be bringing their third-party keyboards to iOS 8. And Apple’s integrated keyboard will also be upgraded with QuickType, a new feature that suggests words to user and adapts to their language over time.
iOS 8 is currently in beta for developer testing. It is expected to launch on iPhone and iPad this fall. For more, see AppleInsider’s other iOS 8 videos, which can also be found below: