iOS, as anticipated, came blazing with a whole set of inventive features for the taking. And the developer and user community has more than happily embraced all those features which are no less than modish. And then, there are features like custom keyboards that have taken the user-centric approach to a new level.
As a significant part of Apple's extensibility feature, the custom keyboards give the developers the absolute free rein to ditch the default iOS keyboard for the one that they can custom-create on their own. And that's why it's no surprise that the feature has caught on so quickly among the developers. Any iOS App Development Company is also vying to make their developers adapt to the technology.
Custom Keyboards in iOS 8
The Challenges Thus Far
However, there is still some getting used to the whole custom keyboard thing. To begin with, the keyboards can only function within the Apple apps. The Smartphone giant has recently launched a spreadsheet-centric keyboard that is customized for numbers. There are various kinds of apps that have added their own keys to let the users type in the most-used keys without looking for the Shift key. For example, you have the social networking apps that make it easy to type in the @ and # keys since they form indispensable part of the social media. And you have SwiftKey launching the note taking apps so that the custom keyboards can be easily used in conjunction with the strictly iOS apps.
This trend however is changing, and for all the right reasons. Now, custom keyboards are being created in a way that they are not dependent or tied to a particular system or app and can instead be used for a whole suite of apps.
Custom Keyboards Implementation
Now, the custom keyboards you are wanting to use can be used with any iOS app. But to begin with, it has to be integrated with a particular app. It's only when you download a Swift-Key app that you can install and use it across your system. Once the installation is complete and integrated throughout the system, any time the default keyboard appears, you simply need to tap the keyboard change button (signified by a globe) and you will be offered to choose any custom keyboard you want. There are some doubts though. Let's say, you install the Swype app. Now, it is not clear what will be the action initiated by Swype itself once it is launched. Now, when you remove it, the custom keyboard extension is also removed as a result. The question is, will the user be warned with the consequence?
So, while there are uncertainties, we can expect Apple to take all these in its stride and come up with more definitive answers with time.
The Downsides of Custom Keyboards
While the custom keyboards are welcoming, but simply for the fact that it's just the beginning, there still are a bunch of downsides and restrictions to them. The biggest downsides are related to the security of the phone and the apps. Your custom keyboard is strictly working on the device you are using, so you need to set out certain permissions that will only be given on one device.
The built-in keyboard toggles cannot be accessed by the custom keyboards though there can be settings tweaked to suit your convenience. The phone pad is also something you can't get access to, which means a set of input characters made compulsory by carriers are inaccessible. And this is where the default keyboard has to come into the picture.
Putting Information Security at Risk
The security concerns involve their password fields since using third party keyword for typing in your password makes it prone to being intruded by a malicious coder. The custom keyboard can be recording your key-logs and if it is under the influence of a hacker, he or she can wreck havoc with your phone. If you are using the downloaded keyboard to enter your credit card information, you might as well be letting some hacker sitting at some corner of the world know the most confidential of details. And that's where custom keyboards are most dangerous.
Everything said, Apple well and truly identifies all the shortcomings, and as it keeps evolving its custom keyboard, the users will have more reasons to install them and much lesser reasons to stay away.
About Author: Addison Cohen is a blogger cum experienced iPhone app developer. In addition to serving Appsted- a reputated Mobile App Development Company, he loves sharing useful information on mobile app development processes.