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With iOS 8 comes belated warming up of Apple to developers at large, specifically compatibility with third-party keyboards that have seen record downloads over the past week. Among top free downloads is SwiftKey – so far a favourite among Android users – for the iPhone and iPad. Two other top keyboard apps, Swype and Flesky, remain paid.

Sure, the new, improved iOS 8 keyboard can now do a lot of what SwiftKey can, like predictive text progressively fine-tuned to phrases commonly used by you. But SwiftKey goes a bit further. Its Cloud feature syncs with your Gmail, Facebook and Twitter to incorporate names of your connections and analyse your typing style. It also feeds back analysed data from your handheld device to the cloud, so the benefits of all that learning are transferred to any other device you use. Its 7-plus-year existence further stands to make its autocorrect and predictions far more accurate and refined than Apple’s.

A NextWeb reviewer writes, “Personally, I find the key spacing on Apple’s keyboard a little more comfortable to navigate, but SwiftKey’s more accurate predictions of what I want to say means that it wins out for me overall… In terms of speed, SwiftKey also has the edge because its best prediction is almost always on the middle button.”

Then there is that swipe to type feature on SwiftKey called Flow, using which you can glide your fingertip from letter to letter to string a word together, rather than typing it out. The one area where SwiftKey will lose out, however, is the voice dictation feature that the stock iOS 8 keyboard offers.

Multiple language support includes versions of English, Portuguese, Italian, German, French, and Spanish. The app offers two looks – white and black – and is available for free download on iTunes. Apple users can also download it here.

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