Keyboards aren’t glamorous, but they are useful. These third-party iOS keyboards for iPhone and iPad users will help you type faster and more accurately, with options for emojis, stickers, gifs, and more.
Installing Third-Party iOS Keyboards
Third-party iOS keyboards for the iPhone and iPad are downloaded from the iOS App Store. The keyboards may come bundled in a larger app: Google’s GBoard lives inside the Google Search app, for example. Once the app is downloaded, you’ll need to enable the keyboard. Navigate to “Settings -> Keyboard -> Keyboards -> Add New Keyboard …” and choose the keyboard you want to enable from the list in the middle of the screen.
When you’re ready to type with your new keyboard, tap the globe icon in the lower-left of the default keyboard. This will automatically cycle to the next keyboard on the list, starting with Apple’s emoji keyboard, and continue cycling through the list of installed keyboards. To pick from a list, press and hold on the globe icon.
To remove a keyboard from your device, tap “Edit” and then the red minus sign next to the keyboard you want to delete. You can also tap the “Edit” button to change the order of the keyboards, which controls the order in which they appear when cycling through keyboards with the globe button.
All of these keyboards also require you to enable “Full Access” in your Keyboard settings. To allow full access for a keyboard, navigate to “Settings -> Keyboard -> Keyboards -> Keyboard Name” and toggle “Allow Full Access.” This is necessary for the advanced features of most keyboards like typing suggestions, grammatical errors, and extra features like GIFs.
It’s crucially important that you only enable full access for developers you trust with all your data. The keyboard creator can access every character you type, potentially including sensitive information like passwords and banking details. Security-conscious users should only type sensitive information using the default Apple keyboard to avoid any potential issues with data collection or keylogging.
The Grammarly keyboard brings the power of Grammarly’s proofreading tools to iOS. When you type with the Grammarly keyboard, it scans for mistakes and errors in grammar, spelling, and usage, offering suggestions and corrections in nearly real-time.
You can also use the Grammarly keyboard to check the text that’s already been written. Just select the Grammarly keyboard, then tap the refresh-style button on the left to access Revision Mode. This will scan the visible text for errors and provide the opportunity to make corrections.
2. Google Gboard
Search directly from the Google Gboard (installed as part of the Google Search app or separately) by tapping the Google icon in the upper left, which automatically searches for the detected text in your keyboard’s slide-up pane. You can search the emoji library by their names and benefit from Google’s services’ superpowers through AI-predicted text selection and highly capable voice-to-text typing.
Considering Google’s reputation as an all-seeing eye, it’s not surprising that the GBoard mines your typed text for data about you. That data can be used to target ads more effectively. While it’s not clear what or how much data from the GBoard is uploaded to Google’s servers or how useful that data is for Google, their terms and conditions provide plenty of legal leeway for collection.
The long-reigning king of the third-party keyboard world, SwiftKey brings multiple headline features to your keyboard. It includes swiping entry, better autocorrect, AI-powered suggestions, cloud backup for customized features and your personal autocorrect library, a variety of fully adjustable themes, and searchable emojis. It’s reliable and capable, so it should be the first stop for anyone testing third-party iOS keyboards.
FancyKey brings plenty of features to the keyboard, including swiping text entry, more accurate typing, and various display font options.
The keyboard can type the Unicode font options that you see on Twitter and Reddit in any app. The Unicode standard ensures that these varied fonts are available on every iOS device, so they show up both on your screen and your recipients’. You also get macros for popular emoji art, a selection of animated stickers, and old-style text-based emojis, but there’s no text search for the built-in emoji library, unfortunately.
The default keyboard animation might be excessive for anyone but tweet girls. But once these sparkles and bubbles are toggled off, the keyboard is accurate and flexible.
5. GIF Keyboard
Unlike FancyKey, GIF Keyboard is an accessory keyboard, not a fully-usable keyboard for text entry. It’s solely for finding and sharing GIFs. They’re separated into useful categories for quick browsing, amd you can search for a specific GIF using a text search, too. These images can be shared in Messages or added just about anywhere that default text input is available.
SwiftKey is a reliable and usable first choice. Gboard scores points too but has some privacy concerns. The remaining keyboards make good accessories to your default options.