Fleksy brings the first alternative keyboard to iOS... one app at a time

iOS 7 allows for full replacement keyboards on an app-by-app basis. Fleksy, previously available as the stand-alone Fleksy app, is providing an SDK to let developers more quickly and easily do just that. The first four apps to implement the Fleksy keyboard, available now, are: Launch Center Pro, GV Connect, BlindSquare, and WordBox.

Fleksy claims to do several things better than the default iOS 7 keyboard, including predictive text, an auto-correct that works even if you're typing while not looking at the screen, a larger effective typing area, and a gesture system to space, delete, capitalize, and punctuate, etc.

It's worth emphasizing that this isn't an Android-style solution. You still can't swap out the keyboard on a system-wide level, just in individual apps, and only for keyboards the developers choose to support. That means if you want a consistent typing experience throughout iOS, you still have exactly one choice - Apple's.

It remains to be seen if other well-known keyboards, like Swype or SwiftKey start appearing as options in iOS apps. On one hand, it could allow for a whole new level of customization. On the other, a whole new level of confusion.

Check out the videos, and the apps, and let me know, what do you think of Fleksy, and of the way iOS is handling alternative keyboard?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Fleksy brings the first alternative keyboard to iOS... one app at a time


That's actually kind-a awesome. Too bad it's not a universal solution. I suppose Apple is ok with this as it doesn't seem to be targeting iOS's keyboard, per say... I know, Apple can just buy the developer and integrate this type of typing scheme into iOS 8.5.

I haven't tried any other keyboard on iOS yet, so I can't say anything certain, but do know consistency would be important to me. So if I tried an alternate keyboard and prefer it, I'd want it to be my go-to tool across the board. My 2 cents worth...

"A whole new level of confusion"? Hmm, wonder why iOS users are stereotyped the way they are when blogs make statements like that. Apple is bashed for its "walled garden", and when a developer comes up with a solution it is frowned upon because it might cause confusion? Confusion for who?

Give smartphone users some credit, be it iOS, Android or Windows Phone. We're not stupid as most now switch platforms like the weather.

I use all the mobile platforms and the first 5-10 minutes with Fleksy filled me with frustration. There is a learning curve, and it's going to frustrate the crap out of some people.

Totally agree with you. I installed the beta on an Android device a few months ago and that lasted all of 10 minutes.

I'm just saying todays smartphone users know more than they did a few years ago, iOS users included. iPhone users are seen as users who wouldn't know how to do anything if something was changed on their iPhone. It's time to move on from that, it's getting old...

Agreed 100%. Just like the upgrading to iOS7, making a big deal out of nothing. And before anyone replies just know if your sentence starts out "Well my Mom...." I will tune you out. :)

I use Fleksy on my Samsung Galaxy S3. I gave it about 25 minutes and didn't like it. Switched back to the Google Keyboard. But I gave it another try a few days later. I learned the gestures and memorized the long press keys. I've been using it for about a week, and absolutely love it now. I'd recommend this keyboard to anyone, but yes, it has a learning curve.

iOS devices tend too be too easy to use… I know plenty of people who would be confused by this very easily - things have been known to be broken.

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Makes no sense. It needs to be implemented into the actual applications like text and email. Why would I want to open an app and have to copy and paste it just to save on accuracy? There has got to be a way to add this as a keyboard like any other language or emoji keyboard.

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You've missed the whole point. Up until now, 3rd party keyboards have worked the way you have described. Fleksy offers iOS developers an API/SDK to include the keyboard in their app. I just noticed an update to Launch Center Pro that mentions Fleksy support in the change log.

There's still several drawbacks to this approach. Firstly, Apple's stock apps will obviously not make Fleksy available, so you'll almost certainly be using 2 different keyboards on your phone. Secondly, Fleksy has to be built into every app that supports it, so (to over simplify) you'll essentially have a copy of Fleksy code in every app that uses it -- and that's just a waste of storage whether you want the keyboard or not.

OTOH, should this strategy catch on, it sends a very clear signal to Apple that they need to open up iOS to 3rd party developers or they're just going to go around, over, and through the obstacles Apple puts in place.

This is really cool, I like the predictive text feature. So you can type away and not worry about the errors. Great app and thanks for the review!

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cool. Sadly as the article states you can't change the keyboard systemwide. I'm not always fond of "The Apple Way" so it'd be nice to have choice. But I'm not holding my breath.

It's a good start. I hope that someday Apple will soften up a bit when it comes to these kinds of things.
Then my next request would be SwiftKey please.