Best custom keyboards for iPhone and iPad

Whether you want to swipe your way to faster messaging, access GIFs right from your keyboard, or just want to add a little flair to your keys, there are quite a few options to choose from. We've gone through most of them to pick our favorites, and these are the ones we think deserve your attention!


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Best custom keyboards for iOS 8: SwiftKey

SwiftKey is one of the best-selling Android keyboard apps of all time — and for good reason. Not only does SwiftKey come with a great text-prediction engine, SwiftKey Flow on the iPhone lets you swipe your way through words in a snap. And if you use multiple devices, you can use SwiftKey Cloud to sync everything SwiftKey has learned about your typing style along with all your custom dictionary data.

If swiping is your thing and you frequently spend time on multiple devices, look no further than SwiftKey.

TextExpander 3 + custom keyboard

Best custom keyboards for iOS 8: TextExpander 3

TextExpander is a wonderful little utility that lets you store custom snippets of text that you might use frequently. Before custom keyboards, TextExpander's capabilities were limited to its own notes app — but no longer. TextExpander 3's custom keyboard brings your snippets to the typing interface, allowing you to use them wherever you can pull up a keyboard. Just tap in your shortcuts and voila, TextExpander takes care of the rest.

If you work with a lot of templates or already use TextExpander elsewhere, TextExpander 3's custom keyboard is a no brainer.


Best custom keyboards for iOS 8: Swype

Swype, like SwiftKey, lets you use swipe gestures in order to make out words. Swype also comes with five different themes, if you're into color customization. Unique to the keyboard is a traditional number pad, which some users may particularly appreciate; you toggle it by pressing the number key. Like many of the other keyboard options, Swype gets smarter the more you use it and learns words as you use them more and more often.

If you want custom themes and a dedicated number pad for faster number entry, check out Swype.


Best custom keyboards for iOS 8: Fleksy

Fleksy does a great job of combining traditional tapping with intuitive gestures. For example, if Fleksy predicts something incorrectly, you can reverse swipe anywhere on the keyboard. To toggle between predictions, just swipe up and down. You can also change themes in the Fleksy app itself, including options for smaller and more compact on-screen keyboards.

For a completely customizable and unique way of typing, be sure to give Fleksy a try.


Best custom keyboards for iOS 8: Minuum

Minuum offers a great predictive engine in an easy-to-use and sleek keyboard. You can even swipe down to make the interface even more compact. This mode scrunches letters together, but still manages to predict what you're typing with surprising accuracy. In its full-size version, Minuum displays a consistent experience that's similar to the default iOS keyboard, but also shows offers prediction suggestions.

For a minimal keyboard that gets out of the way while still offering up more predictions than its competitors, Minuum is the keyboard you want.


Best custom keyboards for iOS 8: Slated

Slated attempts to break down language barriers, allowing you to communicate in well over 30 languages instantaneously. Start typing in English, then choose your target language. You'll see the translation appear right below what you're typing. When you're happy with what you've typed, just tap on the translation and hit send.

If you face a language barrier either in personal or professional situations, you need Slated on standby.


Best custom keyboards for iOS 8: Themeboard

Themeboard by Taphive is the first of its kind and lets graphic designers from all over the world share their keyboard creations in one place. Find a theme you like, download, and apply it. Simple as that. The layout of Themeboard is extremely similar to the stock iOS keyboard and contains a lot of the same features you already enjoy, along with a few other neat keyboard tricks.

If theming is your number one priority, there's no app better than Themeboard.

Your vote for best custom keyboard?

If you've been playing around with third party keyboards from the App Store, what ones have been your favorites and why? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

(Note: Originally published, September 2014. Updated, December 2014.)

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.