Now that iOS 8 allows for 3rd party keyboard apps to be installed, there have been some new entries into this space. Here are my picks for the 3 Must Have 3rd Party Keyboard Apps for iOS 8.
When I smiley face Emoji just isn’t enough you can now send an animated GIF. However, instead of having to find one on the internet or fire up another app, you can just switch to the GIF Keyboard, find the one you like and insert it right into your SMS text message. This keyboard is nicely implemented with categories making it easy to find the GIF you want.
You can get GIF Keyboard here from the .
This is a popular 3rd party keyboard on other platforms and now it has made its way to iOS 8. When you bring up the Swype keyboard instead of tapping each letter to spell a word, you simply use your finger to drag through (swype through) the letters that make up that word. It has intellegence built-in to anticipate the word you’re trying to spell even if you don’t hit all the letters. For example when I wanted “cool” I just swiped through “c” “o” and “l” and it knew what I was trying to spell. I can see this keyboard being useful for people that always hitting the wrong keys with the onscreen keyboards of yesterday.
You can get Swype here from the .
As I mentioned in a previous post, my favorite NEW keyboard is Text Expander. While iOS has had a “shortcut” feature for a while now, Text Expander goes way beyond the built-in iOS shortcut feature. You can configure snippets that are more than just one line. In fact you can do entire paragraphs. Also your snippets can have styling in them.
You can get TextExpander her from the .
One of the things that iOS 8 brings to the table is an open door to App Developers to access the manual controls for the camera. Well it didn’t take long for Apps to appear in the App Store that take advantage of this new capability. “Manual” is just such an App. This App allows you full control over your image by allowing you to “manually” set the shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus and exposure bracketing. It even has a pretty cool “live” histogram that I must admit when I first saw it, I thought it was an audio meter. If you were shooting a challenging scene (such as a bright window in the background) with a DSLR, you could switch to manual and set your shutter speed and ISO. Now you have the same flexibility on your iPhone.
Shot with the Manual App on AUTO
Shot with the Manual App after an ISO adjustment to expose the shadows more
The interface is pretty straight forward and it definitely let’s me do exactly what I want when it comes to exposure control. The only thing I don’t seem to be able to control on my iPhone 5s is aperture. I see it displayed as 2.2, but it’s greyed out and that may be that on the iPhone 5s you can’t change it? Not sure. Otherwise the app does all that it claims to do and you can even switch between automatic and manual within the app.
You can get Manual here from the .
I’ve been using TextExpander for Mac for years. TextExpander is a shortcut utility that allows you to create “snippets” of text and assign a few keystrokes to insert the text into any application. For example, let’s say you always type directions to enter your building ie. “Enter the parking lot from the 1407 driveway. You can park in front of my suite with the glass door. The Driveway for building 1407 leads around to the LEFT and parking lot between buildings 1407 and 1307. If you go in the 2nd driveway (1307) you’ll end up at the back (garage) door of 1307.” Instead of typing that out each time or pulling up a note to copy it from, you could enter it into TextExpander and assign it a shortcut like “bpkglot”. Just type “bpkglot” in any application and TextExpander will replace it with the full text from the snippet. While this is very handy on my Mac it’s now even more useful on my iOS devices where typing on a smaller, on screen keyboard is harder. Smile Software made a touch version of TextExpander before, it required 3rd party app support and never worked in the native iOS Apps such as Mail or Messages. Now that iOS 8 allows for 3rd party keyboards, Smile has made a new version of TextExpander that allows you to install it as an additional keyboard in iOS. Once installed you can choose to sync your snippets from your Mac via Dropbox and then choose the TextExpander keyboard. Now you can use your TextExpander snippets in ANY application!
I can’t tell you how much this will improve my productivity each day. I have dozens of snippets in TextExpander Mac and now I have access to them on my iPhone and iPad. I would use this keyboard 100% of the time if it also allowed for the iOS 8 feature of Predictive Text, but sadly it doesn’t. Apple probably doesn’t allow 3rd party keyboards to access this feature. Otherwise, TextExpander is a must have and definitely one of my favorite things now that I’ve upgraded to iOS 8.
You can get TextExpander for iOS here
You can get TextExapnder for Mac here.
Now that iOS 8 is out in the wild, I thought I’d share 5 features that are really cool and make iOS that much better. So in no particular order, here we go with 5 iOS 8 features that you don’t want to miss:
Turn on “Hey Siri”
Up until now if you wanted to use Siri, you had to hold down the home button to activate her. Now you can turn on the “Hey Siri” feature in the General Settings. If your iDevice is plugged into power (such as your car), you can just say “Hey Siri” and use Siri as you always do while keeping your hands where they are.
See which Apps are using up your battery
Now in iOS 8 you can go to Settings->General->Usage->Battery Usage and see which apps are using your battery life and the worst offenders.
3rd Party Apps can Now use Touch ID
If you have an iPhone 5s or iPhone 6/iPhone 6 plus then your home button is also a fingerprint scanner (Touch ID). In iOS 7 this could only be used to unlock your iPhone or allow you to download content from the iTunes store without having to enter a password. Now 3rd party apps can take advantage of this very secure “unlocking” method. On of my Favorite Apps, 1Password can now be unlocked with the touch of a finger! I couldn’t be happier.
Get 1Password here .
Attach multiple pics to a SMS/iMessage much easier
Now you can tap the camera button when composing a text message/iMessage and choose more than one picture from your camera roll without having to go back and forth between the message and the insert command. Bonus Tip: Sending an iMessage? If you hold down the Camera icon you can instantly record a video to send.
This is probably the feature I’ll use the most. Keyboard suggestions are awesome and more importantly iOS 8 learns and offer better suggestions based upon who you’re talking to.
Here are 8 Tips and Tricks for iOS 8:
I moved into my new place and needed to measure a window. Sure I have a very nice tape measure that was packed away in a box somewhere, but I needed to measure this window right now. I thought that there must be an app for that. Sure enough there are a few of them. However, the 1st ones I tried were only geared to measuring things that were no bigger than the screen on your iDevice. I needed an app that would allow me to measure several inches. Ruler Pro + fit the bill nicely. The app has a simple UI (user interface). Once you launch it, it displays a ruler on screen that is as long as your screen. However, once you line up your screen with the top of whatever it is you need to measure, just put one finger on your display and slide the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The ruler will scroll. Lift your finger once you get the iDevice as far down as you can go for the next measurement and put your finger down again. Just keep doing this until you get to the end of whatever it is you’re trying to measure and you’ll have the measurement. The app worked perfectly! However, I do have one complaint. You’re limited to 50″. I can’t for the life of me figure out why it would be limited at all, let alone at 50″? I needed to measure about 80″, so I had to mark it at 50″ and start again to get the rest. Other than this one limit the app does exactly what it’s supposed to. If I could suggest a feature, it would be nice to tap and be able to have the app jot down the measurements as you take them. This would save me from having to switch to a different app to actually write down the measurements or use pen and paper.
You can get Ruler Pro + here from the