A parade of third-party gesture keyboards arrives for iOS 8

Apple is allowing third-party keyboards for the first time in iOS 8 and Swype, SwiftKey, Fleksy and TouchPal will be releasing the first 'iconless' apps for the iPhone and iPad today.

While Apple's including QuickType in today's free iOS 8 update , there are other ways to speed up your typing on an iPhone or iPad. Apple's also opened iOS 8 up to third-party keyboards for the first time in history and a parade of vendors will be releasing their wares to the App Store later today.

For the first time in iOS history you'll be able to quickly slide your thumb across letters on your screen to spell out words instead of having to hunt-and-peck individual letters on a virtual keyboard. While this feature has been available on Android for eons it's finally coming to iOS today and it works surprisingly well.

Although I haven't been part of the following vendor's beta programs for iOS 8 (I'll withhold judgment until the official iOS apps are released) I've used them on Android as well as the first-party Google Keyboard which basically does the same thing. 

Here's a round up of the big four keyboard replacements that will be arriving today for iOS 8:

Swype ($0.99, App Store) promises "a faster and easier way to input text on any screen" and has been the dominant gesture keyboard on Android to date. 

SwiftKey (free, App Store) also joined the iOS 8 keyboard race today, but with one major difference:it's free. Here's a demo video of SwiftKey in action (if you can get through the slo-mo sports clips, that is).

You can see a video comparison of Swype and SwiftKey at re/code.

Fleksy ($0.99, App Store) and TouchPal (free, App Store) have also launched keyboards for the newly-minted iOS 8 today, so feel free to try them out as well. 

What's your favorite iOS 8 keyboard? Post your thoughts in the TalkBack below or Tweet me @jasonogrady.