Just because your iPhone has an application keyboard doesn̵7;t mean you have to like it … or keep it. There are better iPhone keyboard programs out there with robust features like custom themes and emoji, as well as some that can help you type faster or more accurately, so why not skip it?
Although keyboard customization first became available on iOS 8, it is not the only operating system that allows users to replace a third-party keyboard on their mobile device: There are also several good options for Android. Many of the keyboard apps in our comparison actually offer apps for both systems, so if you own devices on Android and iOS and you find one you like, you can install on all your devices.
What to look for in an iOS keyboard app
Choosing a new keyboard is a fun way to customize your phone, and it can be fun to test new keyboard applications to see what’s available. Each app offers a variety of things to customize from comfort to aesthetics. Everyone does things their own way, so these are the most important things to keep in mind:
- Text options: Good keyboard software makes it easy to type quickly and accurately and supports both gesture and voice typing. It should also have robust text correction and predictive text options, support a variety of languages and allow you to add or remove words from your personal dictionary.
- Design: Third-party keyboard apps are all about customization. From fun colorful themes to keyboard layout choices, having options in general for each setting is what makes them great. The best iPhone keyboard applications offer multiple keyboard sizes and layout options, allowing you to switch things like haptic feedback, audio, emoji and GIFs, and a number row. Almost any customization you can think of is possible, so make sure you take the time to try some and find the one that suits you.
- Emoji and GIF access: While it’s important for a keyboard to have solid text options for fast, accurate typing, half the fun of discovering GIFs and emoji and sharing them with friends is fun. Good iPhone keyboard software gives easy access to emoji, stickers, GIFs and other fun accessories a priority instead of searching for or downloading some from another app.
- Integrity: Keyboards have access to everything you type, from passwords and usernames to credit card information and your personal dictionary. Because of this vulnerability, we favor keyboards that guarantee privacy and store everything locally on your device (rather than in the cloud somewhere).
- Cost: All keyboard programs in our comparison are free, but some offer in-app purchases for things like premium themes or other tools. Even if you stop looking at other keyboard programs outside of our list, make sure you avoid options that require a purchase or, worse, a subscription, because it’s just not something you have to pay for.
Best multilingual option: SwiftKey
Microsoft SwiftKey (free, with in-app purchases) is a solid, rounded keyboard program, but its most impressive feature is its language support. The app allows you to seamlessly enter as many as five languages at a time without adjusting any settings. You can choose from over 400 supported languages, so if you have friends and family around the world, this keyboard can help you speak them all effectively. The AI-powered dictionary constantly adapts to the unique way you speak and has powerful auto-corrections and helpful text predictions. And don’t worry, it also has robust GIFs, emoji and stickers for when you feel crazy.
Private, beautiful and fast: Fleksy
Fleksy (free, with in-app purchases) is beautiful and private, yes, but its brilliant feature is how fast you can write with it. Fleksy is the fastest keyboard available, even with a Guinness World Record. It stores everything you type locally on your device, not in a cloud, so you have peace of mind knowing that your private information (such as username and password) is not vulnerable to hacking. The keyboard also has built-in mini-apps so you can search for memes, GIFs, videos and even Yelp recommendations without changing apps. There is also a selection of other mini-extensions.
Lots of features, Little Frill: Gboard
Google’s Gboard (free) is simple and easy, with a focus on features over flash. It offers excellent text prediction with machine learning and has multilingual support so you can switch between writing in different languages. Your dictionary and auto-correction suggestions will automatically detect and switch accordingly. It also supports voice and slide type.
Gboard has a large selection of GIFs, stickers and emoji to choose from, and you can customize settings such as haptic feedback, audio and keyboard layout, and theme options. The keyboard has a small selection of themes with muted colors, landscape photos and gradients, and you can also use one of your own photos. Gboard also keeps your information private and only stores your information on your device.
Best for reducing fonts: Typewise
Sure, typos happen, but if you feel you tend to create them more than others, you may want to check out Typewise (free, with in-app purchases). Although it has a “traditional” keyboard layout option, it forces users to type with its alternate keyboard layout, which has larger keys and is designed to cause 80% fewer typos. The app uses gestures to facilitate typing, such as swiping up to use capital letters or swiping left or right to delete or reset. It also keeps what you write securely and out of the cloud and supports writing in over 40 languages.
For help with grammar: grammar
No one likes to be the person who is known for making grammatical errors. If this sounds like you, consider downloading Grammarly (for free, with in-app purchases). While it lacks many of the more exciting features that these types of apps usually have, it does a decent job of helping you write faster, making your writing stronger and more accurate, and helping you understand the mistakes you make so that you do not repeats them in the future. The keyboard works in all types of apps, such as social media pages, emails, messages and documents, and it promises secure privacy for everything you type while using it.
Customizable themes and fonts: ReBoard
You can unleash your inner artist with ReBoard (for free, with in-app purchases), as it allows you to customize just about anything from themes to keyboard layouts to fonts. ReBoard has a huge database of animated stickers and the latest emoji, and even has automatic emoji predictions and an emoji search feature. ReBoard also has lots of ways to customize your keyboard, such as different sizes and colors, one-handed typing layouts and alternative character options, and move the cursor on the space bar. It even has 27 built-in mini-apps for web and image search, GIFs and stickers, a calculator, YouTube, your calendar, Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, news and more.
Best for custom emoji: Bitmoji
If you like to use emoji but have always wanted something a little more personal, check out Bitmoji (for free). With the app, you can create a custom cartoon avatar that looks just like you. You have control over details such as facial features, hair and skin color and even your avatar expressions, clothes and accessories. While it also lets you write regularly and offers useful text suggestions, the fun of the app takes time to customize your Bitmoji stickers and show them off to your friends and family when you chat with them.