How to Use iOS 8 Keyboards on Your iPhone

The keyboards on your iPhone became more useful with the arrival of iOS 8. Now the keyboard takes an educated stab at the next word you mean to type and presents what it surmises to be the best possible word choices front and center.

Say you’re in the Messages app and the last message you received was an invitation to lunch or dinner. Above the row of keys in the iPhone keyboard, you’d see buttons with three word suggestions: Dinner, Lunch, and Not sure. If one of those were the appropriate response, you could tap the button to insert its text into your reply.

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Of course, if you wanted to respond with something different than the three options presented by Apple, just type your response with the regular QWERTY keys. As you type additional letters and words, the three suggested word choices above the keyboard change in real time.

For instance, if you start by typing That is a in your message, the new trio of word choice buttons that show up might be good, great, and very.

Such QuickType keyboard predictions vary by app and by whom you are communicating with. So the predictive text choices that show up in Messages when you’re involved in an exchange with a friend are likely to be more casual than the those in an email to your boss.

Such suggestions don’t appear only in English. If you’re using an international keyboard, suggestions are presented in the appropriate language.

As part of iOS 8, Apple for the first time permits you to choose an alternative keyboard from a third-party app developer, a welcome change to the producers of SwiftKey, Swype, Ginger, and Fleksy keyboards that debuted on the rival Android mobile operating system.

Some third-party keyboards let you use swipe gestures — that is, gliding rather than lifting your finger from one key to the next. If you’ve tried and liked this input method on other phones, you’ll appreciate being able to employ it on the iPhone.

In the App Store, you can fetch new keyboards — some are free and others require a modest sum. After you download a keyboard, visit Settings→General→Keyboard→Keyboards→Add New Keyboard and select your keyboard. Then, press and hold down on the globe key on the iPhone’s own keyboard and select your new keyboard in the list. Alternatively, keep tapping the globe key until the keyboard you want takes over.