iPhone users first tapped into creative keyboards with the native Emoji keyboard included in iOS 5. The little images took the mobile world by storm, making it easier than ever to add a quick dash of fun into a text conversation or email.
When Apple opened its doors to third-party keyboards with iOS 8 most people imagined it would give texters more options when typing, like being able to swipe, rather than tap, from letter to letter. While keyboards like these were among the first to make their way to iPhone, alongside them came hundreds of others, ranging in scope from fun sets of topic-specific emojis to functional ones that offer innovative ways to type.
Standing out from the crowd, here are five of our favorite third-party keyboards for iOS:
1. Thumbly ($2)
This clever keyboard makes those one-handed texts while carrying groceries or holding a cup of coffee much easier, assembling the letters in an arc around one corner of the screen for easy access with just one thumb.
2. Sunrise (free)
If you already use the free calendar app Sunrise (check it out here), you can download its accompanying keyboard to schedule meetings directly from your messaging app. With a few taps on the Sunrise keyboard you can check schedules, create an event and send out invites without ever having to leave your conversation. The Sunrise calendar makes scheduling as natural as sending a text, because why shouldn't it be?
3. Amigo Spanish Keyboard (free)
While full translation keyboards can be costly, the Amigo Spanish Keyboard augments your keyboard with a full English/Spanish dictionary and grammar rules for free, making it the perfect choice for users who often type in both Spanish and English. It can even pronounce Spanish words for you to help you communicate in real life, too.
6. ScribbleBoard ($1)
ScribbleBoard is as simple as it is delightful. Giving you a blank canvas in your keyboard space, it lets you send your friends doodles from any messaging app.
7. PadKeys ($2)
PadKeys takes full advantage of the extra space on the iPad keyboard, filling it out with numbers and punctuation so you don't have to switch back and forth. This add-on is a must-have for dedicated iPad users.