In­stall and use a third-party key­board

Nick Me­diati ex­plains how to get started

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Re­leased in au­tumn 2014, iOS 8 brought with it a truck­load of new fea­tures – one of which was the abil­ity to swap out Ap­ple’s built-in key­board with one of your choos­ing sup­plied by a third-party de­vel­oper. Af­ter all, the stock key­board isn’t for ev­ery­one, and it has its fair share of short­com­ings. If you’ve never tried a new key­board, now’s a good time to ex­plore your op­tions, and mak­ing the switch is a fairly easy process. Here’s how to go about it.

Be­fore we be­gin, a note about pri­vacy

Since third-party key­boards can ac­cess any­thing you type in, there are some pri­vacy risks in­her­ent to us­ing such a piece of soft­ware. As Ap­ple notes in a pri­vacy dis­claimer nes­tled in the Set­tings app, third-party key­boards may be able to send any­thing you type to that com­pany’s servers. For ex­am­ple, a key­board may need to com­mu­ni­cate with a server in or­der to an­a­lyse what you type and of­fer up bet­ter au­to­cor­rect sug­ges­tions.

For­tu­nately, iOS has got your back. Key­boards don’t re­ceive this level of ac­cess – which Ap­ple refers to as “full ac­cess” – by de­fault: you have to ex­plic­itly al­low key­boards to sub­mit any data it col­lects to a server. Also, you can eas­ily switch be­tween and re­move third-party key­boards as you please, so you can change your mind later.

Find­ing a key­board

You have a num­ber of op­tions at your dis­posal. Swype (79p) is one pop­u­lar op­tion – it al­lows you to swipe your fin­ger over let­ters in or­der to form words in­stead of punch­ing a word out let­ter by let­ter. (Want to type “cat”? Place your fin­ger on the C, swipe up to A, over to T, then re­lease your fin­ger). SwiftKey Key­board (free) is worth check­ing out as well.

Once you find a key­board you want to try, go ahead and down­load it like you would any other iOS app. (For the sake of this ar­ti­cle, I’m us­ing SwiftKey’s key­board.)

Set­ting up your new key­board

Once you down­load and in­stall your new key­board, you’ll have to tell iOS that you want to ac­tu­ally use

it To start, open the Set­tings app, tap Gen­eral, then tap Key­board. Tap Key­boards – it’s the first item listed on the screen, then tap Add New Key­board.

You’ll find your new key­board un­der the Third­Party Key­boards sub-head­ing, but be­fore you pro­ceed, you should tap About Third-Party Key­boards & Pri­vacy to learn more about the afore­men­tioned pri­vacy im­pli­ca­tions of us­ing a new key­board.

Now that you know what you’re get­ting into, tap Done, and on the fol­low­ing screen, tap the name of the key­board you just down­loaded. Just like that, your new key­board will be added to the list of in­stalled and ac­tive key­boards on your de­vice. Tap your newly in­stalled key­board’s name to get at more op­tions, in­clud­ing the afore­men­tioned Full Ac­cess mode. At this point, you may want to hop into the key­board app it­self to see if there are any ad­di­tional con­fig­u­ra­tion op­tions. For in­stance, if you use SwiftKey, you can sign in to or cre­ate a SwiftKey ac­count in or­der to get more fea­tures be­yond the ba­sic key­board.

Us­ing your new key­board

Now that that’s all out of the way, it’s time to ac­tu­ally use your newly-in­stalled key­board. Open an app that ac­cepts text in­put – like Notes – then bring up the key­board. Tap and hold the Globe key un­til

a key­board picker menu pops up. Se­lect the key­board you just in­stalled, then start typ­ing. If you want to switch key­boards, you can do so at any time – just re­peat this process and pick the key­board you want to use.

De­ac­ti­vat­ing or delet­ing a key­board

If you want to re­move a key­board from the key­board picker menu, head back to Set­tings > Gen­eral > Key­board, then tap Key­boards. Tap the Edit but­ton, then tap the red ‘mi­nus sign’ but­ton. Tap Delete to con­firm that you want to re­move that key­board from the key­board picker.

Note that do­ing so doesn’t ac­tu­ally delete the key­board from your phone – you can al­ways add it back to the list by tap­ping Add New Key­board then pick­ing the key­board you want to use.

You can re­move the de­fault key­board from the list if you never want to see it again, and you can re­ar­range the or­der in which key­boards ap­pear in the picker menu. Once you’re fin­ished, tap Done.

But what if you want to delete a third-party key­board from your phone en­tirely? It’s sim­ple: Find the key­board’s icon on the home screen, then press it un­til the home screen icons start jig­gling around (don’t press down too hard if you own an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, though, you might in­voke the 3D Touch fea­ture in­stead). Tap the ‘x’, con­firm you want to delete the app, then press the Home but­ton.

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