Apple Will Allow Third-Party Keyboards System Wide in iOS 8

Third Party Keyboard WWDC

When Apple launches iOS 8, the biggest change will come on the developer end. The company is know for keeping things closed off to developers. However, iOS 8 will bring the biggest changes for developers since the launch of the App Store. One of the biggest new possibilities coming this fall will be the ability to choose what keyboard you use system wide.

That’s right. Apple has unlocked the ability for developers to create keyboards that users can use as their main keyboard function. I can’t wait to see all of the fun colors and goofy symbols that will find their way into the App Store this year.

By default, third-party keyboards will run inside the most restricted sandbox with no network access. Apple wants to ensure that your privacy is protected. However, if you choose to, you can unlock access for those third party apps. You will be prompted to allow access with the following disclosure:

“Full access allows the developer to transmit anything you type, including things you have previously typed with this keyboard. This could include sensitive information such as your credit card number or street address.”

Flesky

Developers are already working hard on keyboard apps for iOS 8. In fact, Flesky has already tweeted an image of their third-party keyboard being used in Messages on an iPhone [Via: AppleInsider]. The dark theme and bold font looks strikingly different than Apple’s current iOS 7 keyboard.

During the keynote address at this year’s WWDC, Apple used the popular Android-compatible Swype keyboard as the example for iOS 8. Again, this app offers significantly different features than Apple’s default keyboard. Swype allows users to spell out words using gestures instead of taps.

Swype Vice President of Product Marketing Aaron Sheedy spoke with Re/code in an interview shortly after the announcement at WWDC.

“Not surprisingly, I couldn’t be more excited to bring Swype to iOS users,” said Sheedy in a phone interview. “Our keyboard has been deployed on a billion devices across the world over the last five years, and that’s allowed us to build up a great language model, not only using our own technology, but also learning from our users, so our accuracy is quite good.”

Swiftkey

Android-based Swiftkey has also already announced they are working on an iOS version. Swiftkey co-founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock expressed their thought on the company’s blog.

“We’re delighted Apple has decided to embrace the importance of opening its platform to third party keyboards,” they wrote. “We first brought a taste of our technology to iOS in January this year with the launch of the free note-taking app SwiftKey Note. Are we going to build SwiftKey Keyboard for iOS 8? Of course we are. We’ve already started.”

We are looking forward to trying out these awesome keyboards. I wonder if someone will make a Star Wars themed keyboard skin?

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