If you have been using Apple iOS devices, you probably already know about benefits they offer to the users – from technical excellency, to the generally aesthetically pleasing design, all the way to the polished and easy to use software. But it has to be added that, while Apple makes great strides to make their features polished and relatively free of bugs, it can also be noticed that they are generally slower in adding new features than their competitors, notably Android.

iOS 8 has many new features and improvements, but in this article, we will focus on text input improvements. Apple has both improved the default, stock iOS keyboard, while also exposing to developers many new APIs that they can use to make new third-party keyboards and keyboard skins ( although the possibilities to add new keyboard features are sill somewhat limited when compared to Android).

The stock keyboard had one feature that helps typing faster from before – it is still here, called AutoCorrect (it automatically corrects the words you type). In the new version this stock keyboard, among smaller ones, gained one big and visible update – the ability to predict words that will be typed, based both on the internal dictionary, context, and on the specific way of typing that the software tries to learn from the user. Apple calls this new feature QuickType – it will be instantly recognizable to people who have used any recent version of the Android system.

Classic predictive keyboard

Classic predictive keyboard

It works like this:

- Immediately after the keyboard appears, user should notice a bar above the keyboard

- As the user starts typing the text on the keyboard, bar is filled with the suggestions appropriate for the context of the text being typed. If the user has typed only a part of the word, for example the letters “un”, depending on the context, and based of the user’s typing history, it will offer to complete the word ( for example words like “unwise”, “undo”, “unimaginable”, etc ).

If the user just types “un” and immediately follows it with space, the next word will be suggested, again, depending on the past history of usage and on the context ( for example “man”, “damage”, “beauty”, etc ).

Basically, it tries to logically guess the flow of thoughts and the intention, even recognizing common phrases like asking someone where to go or whether to accept something or not (in such cases it offers helpful suggestions, like “yes” or “no”, or in case that the choices were already suggested, for example, if you receive a message from your girlfriend where she asks you whether you want to go to cinema or to restaurant, the QuickType will offer these basic choices as suggested words, sparing you of the effort to type these words manually).

If you see that it offers a word that suits what you intended to write, you just tap on the word, and it is put into the body of the text automatically.

If you find this behavior a distraction, a nuisance, it is easy to disable it. There are two ways to do it:

  • Temporarily, you just tap the suggestions bar and gently swipe it down. It will still leave a small white rectangle, so you can reveal the bar again if needed.
  • The more permanent solution would be to the iOS setting, then to “General”, and finally, choose “Keyboard”. There you will find a switch named “Predictive”. To disable QuickType, just slide this switch into the “off” position.

If, after you try the new keyboard, you still don’t find it to meet your needs, you can try other options, most notably, the free 3rd party keyboard app named “Swype”, which is available from the store, and which also adds some other benefits like the option to input text by swiping over the letters in continuous fashion.

Image: source