How to Add Third-Party Keyboards to the iPhone in iOS 8

Smartphone keyboard with exclamation point highlighted

With iOS 8, Apple has finally loosened the reins on their complete control over their mobile software. For the first time you can actually swap out the keyboard used in iOS and replace it with an aftermarket one downloaded from the App Store.

This means that the keyboards Android users have loved for some time are finally available to anyone using iOS 8. Getting the keyboards installed can be somewhat tricky, though. That’s why we’ve written up this tutorial to help you take full advantage of all the new third-party keyboards iOS 8 has to offer.

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New Keyboards Abound

The number of new keyboards available is actually pretty impressive. To see the full list, just head over to the App Store on your iPhone and tap on Categories in the upper left corner, then Utilities. From here, tap on Extend Your Apps and you should see a list of available keyboards.

iPhone Utilities screen with Extend Your Apps graphic

From simple themes to completely new ways to type with the Swype Keyboard, there’s a lot to see here. There are even GIF keyboards so you can always have the perfect response for any text message or tweet.

Choose the keyboard you like and download it the same way you would any other app. After the app downloads, you’ll have a new app icon on your iPhone. Once the setup is complete, you can hide it away in an unused folder.

Next, we’ll show you how to get your downloaded keyboards installed.

Add New Keyboards screen on iPhone

Enabling Third-Party Keyboards in iOS 8

Now that you have your keyboard downloaded, it’s time to enable it. The apps for each keyboard merely serve as portals to adjust settings and other keyboard-specific items. The actual setting of a keyboard in iOS 8 can only be done via the Settings app, just like every other major system setting in iOS.

1. Open up Settings and tap on General, then Keyboard.

Settings > General screen on iPhone with iOS 8″ src=”” /></p>
<p>2. With the Keyboard settings page open, tap on the <strong>Keyboards</strong> link at the very top.</p>
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3. Here, tap Add New Keyboard and then tap on the new keyboard you just downloaded. You can enable as many keyboards as you like during this process.

4. Once the keyboard is enabled, you must allow it to have full access by tapping on the keyboard’s name and turning on Allow Full Access. When done, you can close the Settings app.

Third-party keyboards listed on Add New Keyboards screen on iPhone

NOTE: Allowing full access for a keyboard will toss a warning. This warning lets you know that by turning this on, you allow the keyboard to do things outside of its sandbox. This can include phoning home with anonymous data.

Most developers cover this, like SwiftKey does, but it’s worth noting. Don’t let this scare you off; just understand what each keyboard you use does with this ability. You have to click Allow to continue.

Allow Full Access confirmation box on iPhone screen

Using Your New Third-Party Keyboards

Now that you’re all installed and set up, it’s time to try out the new keyboard. Open up any app that allows typing — Messages or Notes are great to try. You can send yourself a few iMessages to feel out the new keyboards.

To access the new keyboards, tap on the globe icon in the bottom left corner of your keyboard. This will cycle you through your available keyboards.

Standard iPhone keyboard

Each keyboard functions differently, so you really need to try them out to see how you like each one and discover the subtle nuances. Keyboards such as Swype totally change the typing process, and you will either love them or hate them.

Using Swype keyboard on iPhone with iOS 8

We all have our own preferences, so you may not like all the keyboards you try as you get used to them. If you end up hating one and just want it gone, you can turn it off the same way you enabled it and then delete the app. You’ll be back to normal in no time.

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