There’s something about a physical keyboard that I don’t think I’ll ever really get over. Even if I don’t actually want to use one, I’ve had fond memories of them over the years. Maybe that’s just powered by nostalgia more than anything else, but, either way, There have been some great options in the past. BlackBerry, and Palm, but mostly BlackBerry.
Software keyboards have grown up a lot over the years. And let’s face it, they’ve had to. Considering our smartphones, as big as the displays are, have focused on giving us big-screen slates that don’t want to sacrifice the display size for a hardware keyboard (unless you’re BlackBerry and you figure it out anyway).
Improvements have been made across the board in most cases. Even Apple’s iOS keyboard, which, over the years, has always proven to be the most stable and accurate in my trials, has had to get better to keep up. Android’s stock keyboard is leagues better than it was just two years ago. And Microsoft? Well, that company’s stock keyboard is pretty awesome, and I’d probably place it right up there with the iOS keyboard without much debate.
So when Microsoft’s Word Flow keyboard leaks for iOS, following earlier reports that it was arriving for Apple’s mobile OS, I find myself considering using a third-party keyboard on my iPhone for the first time.
I’ll be honest: Back when Apple announced third-party keyboard support for iOS, I didn’t give it much thought. I knew it was something I wasn’t going to go out of my way to use. I love the stock iOS keyboard, so I don’t have a reason to switch. I’ve used the majority of alternatives on other platforms, especially the big-name third-party competitors, but I don’t swipe to write messages, so the draw, for me, just wasn’t there.
But Microsoft’s Word Flow could make me change that thought process. The theming looks awesome, to start, but that’s obviously been around for a while in third-party keyboards, so that’s not really the main draw. After using the keyboard on stock Windows Phone devices in the past, it’s grown on me quite a bit, and having it as an option for iOS seems like a pretty solid move on Microsoft’s part.
But it got me thinking about third-party keyboards in general, especially leading up to the unveiling of iOS 10 here soon, where functionality for those non-Apple alternatives might get better.
If you have an iPhone, do you use a third-party keyboard instead of the stock option? If so, which one do you use, and why did you switch to it? Are you looking forward to trying out Microsoft’s alternative? Let me know!