General Where are the Keyboards? (Or, Do iOS Keyboards Really Suck, Even When JB?)

Discussion in 'Jailbreaks and iOS Hacks' started by macUser2007, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. macUser2007, Feb 6, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013

    macUser2007 macrumors 65832

    May 30, 2007
    The stock iPhone/iPad keyboard is a primitive affair. The autocorrection is rather primitive as well -- it actually screws up your writing all too often (just like the autocorrection on OS 10.8).

    So, I jailbreak last night, thinking there must be a few options available on Cydia -- I've been reading about Octopus, iSwipe and Autocorrection Bar.

    What a disappointment :(

    On the Android side, my favorite has been SwiftKey, which has generally very good predictive capabilities. So I tried Autocorrection Bar first.

    Autocorrection Bar does not work in iOS 6.1. :(

    So, I decided to try iSwipe, the iOS Swype knock off. And it's a joke. It kind of works, but it cuts a letter off each previously entered word. It has potential, but in its current state is useless. It does not appear to have been updated in a while.

    So, I decided to pay $4.99 for Octopus, based on all the great reviews. And this one works. Hurray! But then I play with it a bit more, and I personally do not like it, not compared to the bar selection method of SwiftKey for Android, at least. I find it weird to constantly switch between tapping and sliding up or down, plus the word choices are simply easier to see instantly in a bar on top of the keyboard. I also miss being able to long-press for secondary keys.

    Overall, I find the state of iOS keyboards options to be just sad. :(

    And even sadder, after pocking around for a few hours, replacing the stock keyboard would have been the only truly useful reason to jailbreak (for me).

    Is there something I am missing here?
  2. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Eveyone has different needs. I personally hate Swype keyboards.
  3. macUser2007 thread starter macrumors 65832

    May 30, 2007
    OK, it's not just the Swipe keyboard (even though it's immensely popular on Android and getting even more so by the day, it seems).

    But there are simply no decent options for iOS, it seems. As you say, everyone has different needs, and iOS caters to none of them, even when jailbroken.

    Does anyone know of anything which at least has a predictive bar on top of the keyboard, or long-press alternative keys.

    The iOS keyboard is really like a Smith Corona in the age of laptops. :(
  4. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    iOS has long press keys. Longpress .com to get other url finishers. long-press on 'e' and you get all the various accent e's. A fifith row with numbers on top would be nice stock, but there are jb tweaks that do that.

    The stock keyboard has advanced features like when in split mode if you press to the right of "t" it enters "y".

    Beyond the predictive bar, which is nice, what advanced features are you looking for?
  5. macUser2007, Feb 6, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013

    macUser2007 thread starter macrumors 65832

    May 30, 2007
    Well, I do know that there are a few long-press options, but they are way too few.

    Advanced features?! I don't know if you have explored other platforms (and Android in particular) and the available keyboards, but there is a lot of stuff that has come to market recently:

    Swipe is, whether you (and I) like it or not, immensely popular, as I mentioned and it seems to be becoming a de facto standard for many. Once you get used to it, it does appear to be a much faster/more efficient way to enter text.

    Long-press is ubiquitous nowadays on many Android keyboard options and it is commonly implemented to allow the user to select numbers and many more secondary characters (as opposed to the few hidden ones in the iOS keyboard).

    Predictive typing is significantly more advanced on other platforms - iOS's implementation is rather primitive, and the lack of selection bar providing visual cues makes predictive typing almost useless in iOS.

    Case in point, one of my colleagues, who with my encouragement just replaced a Google Nexus with an iPhone 5 is so frustrated with the iOS keyboard and the lack of options (she loved Swype) that she just told me that she is probably going to give the iPhone to her mother and get a Nexus 4. While this is anecdotal evidence, obviously, it is a problem Apple has to address if it wants to stay competitive.

    The bummer is, there a no good keyboard alternatives available even for JB iDevices. Since nobody is suggesting an alternative, I guess I've explored them all.
  6. LS417 macrumors regular

    Oct 30, 2009
    Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

    I know octopus is available in cydia, not sure if it has been updated to work with 6.1 yet. IIRC swype was also available in some form or another on cydia, again not sure if it works with the newer ios versions.

    I'm sure there are some other options in cydia that someone who knows better will chime in with.
  7. macUser2007 thread starter macrumors 65832

    May 30, 2007
    I did mention, in my original post, that I forked out the $5 for the Octopus keyboard.

    While it's the ONLY alternative keyboard I found that works with iOS 6.1, it is far from polished and virtually unusable on a small screen of an iPhone5 (and awkward and ugly on an iPad 4).

    There is NOTHING else that I have found, which is why I noted that keyboards are in a pretty sad state of affairs in iOS.

    I'd be happy to discover that I am wrong, but so far nothing I have found suggests that.
  8. reiichiroh macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2009
    what's the best tweak to allow the enter key on bt keyboards to send?
  9. stevegut78 macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2008
    I agree. Just came over from android and I miss Swiftkey. It is so damn good and predicts your next word accurately. If I looked at the stats I saved hundreds of thousands of keystrokes over the life of my last phone. I wish there was something like this for iOS. I wasn't a big fan of swype.
  10. sumsingwong macrumors 6502a


    Dec 15, 2012
    Yes. iOS keyboards suck. Stop wasting your time trying to convince yourself and sell all your iDevices and pick up an Android device already.:rolleyes:
  11. yegon macrumors 68030

    Oct 20, 2007
    Fleksy (free) on the vanilla Apple App Store is impressive and you should check it out. More of a prototype app really, it was designed for the blind. I can actually touch type on that extremely accurately with my eyes shut! It'd be great if a dev ran with it and released it via jailbreak.
  12. cuzo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2012
    I miss the cursor buttons on swiftkey and multitouch and I agree while apple keyboard is pretty accurate they really need to add in some more features big time.
  13. macUser2007 thread starter macrumors 65832

    May 30, 2007
    Yeah, I've tried it and it's an interesting concept, but as a separate app it is simply a non-starter.

    Apple really needs to rethink it's strategy of basically banning even minor customization of iOS. Keyboards are a good place to start, as it is a fast moving field and iOS's keyboard is clearly stuck in the Stone Age.

    But I am also surprised by the lack of development for jailbroken devices. A couple of years ago the JB apps community seemed much more vibrant, the themes were far more advanced than what was available for Android and the apps were more polished.

    Looking at what's available for jailbroken devices now and comparing it to what's available for the Android platform (without the need for rooting) is definitely disconcerting: Android is moving forward at an ever increasing speed, while iOS (and even the JB community) seems to be stagnant.

    Seriously, when two of the most popular items on Cydia are Auxo (basically a horizontal version of the stock Android multitasking display) and a Weather widget (dozens of those are available for Android), there is clearly a problem with iOS, which unless addressed by Apple, will drive the platform into the ground.

    Lawsuits are not a substitute for innovation.

    End of rant.
  14. yegon macrumors 68030

    Oct 20, 2007
    Of course, it's nothing more than a test/demonstration but its nonetheless an eye opener (excuse the pun).
  15. mml061010 macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    Hi! I came across this thread when I was similarly frustrated and trying to find a better keyboard for my jailbroken iPhone. I, too, found it very hard to believe that NO ONE had created a usable alternative keyboard, and I was getting no help from the Internet. But I have good news for you: a Touchpal (Swype-like) keyboard does exist in Cydia, it's just hidden in a Chinese app.

    If you search Touchpal in Cydia, you will find two tweaks from BigBoss. They are both Chinese, but the one you want will say Touchpal Keyboard. Just download it (it's free), and when that's done, you'l see a Touchpal icon on your phone. Ignore that (unless you can read Chinese) because all the settings are in Chinese, and you won't need to change any of them anyhow.

    Go into your phone's settings, and (under "Keyboards") add the keyboard "Touchpal (English)". Now go into an app that uses the keyboard, like Messages or something, and press the globe in the bottom left of your keyboard to switch to the Touchpal one (note: the label for the keyboard will be entirely in Chinese). You'll see a keyboard that looks like a phone number pad with letters. Now just swipe from right to left across the keyboard, and boom, there it is: a perfectly functioning Touchpal/Swype English QWERTY keyboard. There are a couple Chinese characters on the keyboard, but I find them easy enough to ignore, and it doesn't affect my use of the keyboard at all.

    I don't know why BigBoss only has this as an option bundled into a Chinese keyboard app, but I'm glad I did the digging to find it. It's so much better than iSwipe. Hope this helps!
  16. dma550 macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2009
    I agree, I am SO hoping they find a way to wrap this in a JB.
  17. Mrg02d macrumors 65816

    Jan 27, 2012
    Touchpal is available in the regular App Store for free as well, but has disappointing reviews.
  18. Brandobean macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2013
    Found this post while searching for keyboard replacements too. I have an android phone currently but all my friends have iPhones and I'm envious of their music apps (android doesn't have low latency audio = all music instrument apps are useless). Anyway, I loathe using their phones keyboards though so I started researching. How the hell are there no good replacement apps for iPhones!? If someone made a SwiftKey - like app in Cydia and charged $10 I'm pretty sure they could sell 50k of them immediately as there is zero competition.

    Here is what SwiftKey offers by the way, as do many keyboards on android...

    1) text predictions in a row above the keyboard. These predictions are based on a) your typing history b) your email/facebook/twitter/sms history, if you give it access.
    2) long press access to numbers and common punctuation like : / &?! $() etc. The duration of the long press is adjustable
    3) swipe left to delete the entire word. I use this constantly.
    4) use volume up down buttons as cursor left/right. Way easier than trying to move the cursor by hand when you just want to fix a recent typo.

    I don't care for swype functionality. That's not what I'm missing. There are literally a dozen android keyboards that have this or similar functions. I would start a damn company just to offer a replacement iOS keyboard I'm so confident in the business model!
  19. Brandobean macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2013
  20. iRetired macrumors 6502a


    Apr 21, 2012
    More than anything else, I'd love to see an Apple onscreen keyboard with a tab key for moving around consecutive text fields or button choices. And a number row would be nice, too.
  21. 3bs macrumors 603


    May 20, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    A tab key would be pretty useful.

    You can use iKeyWi to add another row to the top and have whatever you want on it.

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