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Six Clicks: Best Apple iOS 8 software keyboards

Apple's iOS 8 includes support for advanced text input software. Matthew has six alternatives installed, so take a look to see which might work best for you.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Several keyboard alternatives are available for iOS 8 devices

One of the main features of iOS 8 is the improved Apple keyboard and support for third-party alternatives. Apple iPhone users will appreciate the improved Apple QuickType prediction, but there is even more to explore.

Android users moving to iOS 8 will appreciate seeing keyboards they have been using for a while now also available for their new iPhone or iPad. Developers have been quick to jump on supporting iOS 8 and we have seen regular updates to continue to improve the iOS 8 experience since launch over a month ago.

Let's take a quick look at the pros, cons, costs, and likely user for each of the top six iOS 8 keyboard options. Feel free to chime in with your preferred option and also let me know if you found more than the six I have highlighted in this gallery.

Related ZDNet iPhone 6 Plus coverage

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2 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Swype for iOS 8

Swype was one of the first alternative keyboards for Android and comes to us from Nuance. It's backed by powerful predictive technology and is one of the most stable keyboards available on iOS 8.

I first installed it on my iPhone 6 Plus, but I moved on since I didn't realize it had press-and-hold alternative keyboard support. I found out later that I just needed to change the theme to see that that functionality was there. Make sure to use the black theme to see the alternative characters you can easily access.

  • Pros: Press-and-hold for alternate characters so you don't have to jump to the number keyboard, advanced settings, flow capability so you can slide your finger around to enter words, support for entering text using two languages at once, advanced gesture support, and keyboard theme support.
  • Cons: No cloud syncing capability for your custom dictionary.
  • Shift key switch to capital on keyboard: Yes.
  • Price: 99 cents, but available right now for free!
  • What user is this good for? If you are a bilingual user then you will appreciate Swype on iOS 8. Long-time Swype Android fans will also love this keyboard.
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3 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

TouchPal for iOS 8

When I first installed Swype and didn't see it had press-and-hold support, I looked for an alternative. The best keyboard I found was TouchPal. It is a wonderful option and since it's free I recommend you give it a try.

  • Pros: Press-and-hold for alternate characters so you don't have to jump to the number keyboard, advanced settings, flow capability so you can slide your finger around to enter words, extensive emoji support, keyboard theme support.
  • Cons: No cloud backup, limited language support (English and Spanish).
  • Shift key switch to capital on keyboard: No.
  • Price: Free.
  • What user is this good for? TouchPal is an excellent free choice for iOS 8 and one that I still keep installed as I bounce between it and Swype. If you use a lot of emojis in your communications then you will love that they have over 800 available.
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4 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

SwiftKey for iOS 8

SwiftKey is another staple keyboard I used on Android devices. I tried it on my iPhone 6 Plus, but when I found it didn't provide the quick access to all of the alternative characters from the main keyboard, I uninstalled it. You do get press-and-hold access to common punctuation.

  • Pros: Cloud backup of your personal dictionary so you can take it with you between devices and mobile operating system platforms, flow capability so you can slide your finger around to enter words, ability to type in two languages at once, and keyboard theme support.
  • Cons: No emojis
  • Shift key switch to capital on keyboard: Yes.
  • Price: Free.
  • What user is this good for? SwiftKey is excellent for those who use devices on multiple platforms or multiple devices on the same platform. It's also great for the bilingual user.
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5 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Adaptxt for iOS 8

Adaptxt is a powerful iOS 8 keyboard that will appeal to those using multiple languages.

  • Pros: Support for more than 90 languages, tap and glide support, and gesture text shortcuts.
  • Cons: No press-and-hold support, and no cloud syncing.
  • Shift key switch to capital on keyboard: Yes.
  • Price: Free.
  • What user is this good for? If you use multiple languages, then you definitely want to consider this keyboard with its vast language support. Some people enter the same thing over and over so the custom gesture support for shortcuts will be appealing to them.
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6 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Fleksy for iOS 8

Fleksy looks to be a basic keyboard for iOS 8, but it's more about simplicity than basics. I understand Fleksy users actually set text entry speed records using this keyboard on Android. 

  • Pros: Gestures for delete, correct, and more; themes; ability to resize the keyboard; cloud personalization; advanced settings; and multiple themes.
  • Cons: No support for press-and-hold to enter alternative characters.
  • Shift key switch to capital on keyboard: No.
  • Price: 99 cents.
  • What user is this good for? Those who want a resizable keyboard to maximize viewing space will appreciate Fleksy.
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7 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Apple's QuickType keyboard

Apple improved their own keyboard in iOS 8 so that QuickType is actually enjoyable to use. I go back to using the Apple default when I no longer feel like swiping around and want the most stable experience since third-party keyboards sometimes lock up.

  • Pros: Excellent predictive technology that learns from you as you use your device and support for Siri dictation.
  • Cons: No support for press-and-hold to enter alternative characters, no themes, and no cloud syncing of dictionary.
  • Shift key switch to capital on keyboard: No.
  • Price: Free, installed in iOS 8.
  • What user is this good for? iPhone users have never had the option for third-party keyboards and the majority will probably continue to use the keyboard loaded on their device by Apple.

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