Third Party Keyboards

One of the most anticipated features in iOS 8 was the redesigned on-screen keyboard. Recently, I did a video on my YouTube channel on the new QuickType feature that now provides smart word prediction with the iOS onscreen keyboard. That video also discussed two other additions: the Dictation feature now has almost real-time feedback, and you can customize the on-screen keyboard by adding a number of third-party keyboards to your iOS device. In the video I featured two of my favorite third-party keyboards: Swype and Fleksy (both $.99 on the App Store).

With Fleksy,  I like the extra feedback I get as I type (the letters appear to jump out) and the fact that you can customize the keyboard by choosing large keys and adjusting the colors to a combination that works well for you. Typing is also very quick with this keyboard. Whenever you need to enter a space, just do a quick swipe to the right, and deleting is as simple as a quick swipe to the left. Word prediction is included, but I have not found the suggestions to be as good as with the built-in keyboard.

Swype allows me to type very quickly by dragging my fingers over the letters that make up each word in one continuous motion.  It really makes more sense when you see it in action in the video. While you can switch to a Dark theme that I find helpful, I wish this keyboard had a few more themes to choose from.

Lastly, that brings me to Keedogo and Keedogo Plus from AssistiveWare, a well known name in the field of assistive technology thanks to their Proloquo2Go app. Keedogo is designed for beginning writers, with a simplified layout, lower-case letters, ability to use either a QWERTY or ABC layout, and vowel and special key highlighting. It does not include features that could distract an early writer, such as word prediction and auto-correction. I also like the high contrast and large keys. Keedogo Plus adds word prediction and automatic capitalization to the feature set, and is intended for beginning writers who are ready to move on from Keedogo to something more advanced.

AssistiveWare has a third keyboard called Keeble in development that is intended for people with vision and motor difficulties. This keyboard will include options such as color themes, Speak Keys for auditory feedback as you type, select on release, and more.

One quick tip before I end: apparently there is a bug that creates problems with the third party keyboards when Guided Access is enabled. If you are having problems such as the keyboards disappearing, head on over to Settings > Accessibility > Guided Access (found under Learning) and turn that feature off if you are not using it.

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