TouchPal Keyboard brings predictive text and swiping to iOS [Review]

Unlike our Android counterparts, iOS users can’t replace Apple’s standard keyboard — the company won’t let third-party developers replace core functionality. Instead, we’ll have to settle for launching a separate app. TouchPal Keyboard almost makes the extra step worth it.

Instead of tapping individual letters to form words, TouchPal enables you to swipe your finger over the keyboard, touching letters in the correct order. The predictive text will determine possible words in order to save some time typing. Over time, the app will learn your style and frequently used words to better predict what you’re typing.

Who wouldn’t want to scribble all over the screen only to have it make sense later? The downside to being unable to replace your standard keyboard is that your text will have to be copied and pasted into the app you want to use. TouchPal tried to make this step more convenient by offering one-touch buttons that move your swiped text into a new email, SMS message, or it can even drop your content into Evernote. It would be nice to see more options here, especially now that Twitter and Facebook posts are ridiculously easy to create via iOS 6.

TouchPal screens

The app comes with a few other useful features, including three keyboard types (QWERTY, T9, and T+), multi-lingual support, and time savers like auto space and auto capitalization. Currently TouchPal supports English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese (PT), Portuguese (BR), and Spanish. According to the developers, more languages are coming soon.

Also, there are three “pages” of numbers and symbols (access these by tapping on the 12# icon in the lower left corner of the QWERTY keyboard) featuring helpful emoticon buttons and “http://,” “.com,” “.net,” and “.org.” I always appreciated that some apps made it easy to type in emails or web addresses, but TouchPal takes it a small step further with the additional options.

If you’re used to Apple’s standard QWERTY keyboard, adjusting to TouchPal’s Curve technology, or even the T12 layout, can be a little frustrating at first. And keep in mind that results become more accurate over time — you might find that the app isn’t picking up what you’re swiping right off the bat. So if you’re unhappy or feel limited by your current keyboard, give TouchPal a try.

[iTunes]

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  • jabombardier

    I used it on android until i downloaded swift key. It is abshame that ios won’t allow you to make it a default keypad. When i switch to ios next month, i will try this out and see if it is worth opening the app all the time just to use it. I do know that it gives iPhone uses keyboard options that Android users like myself have been enjoying. Hopefully the next ios will allow us to switch the keyboardinn settings like android.

  • STEVEN

    Im now seeing what people always write about – that things show up  on Iphones or Apple releases a feature – and the Apple ecosystem goes crazy at how great it is – only to find that this has been available on Android for years.  Many Android phones have something called SWYPE built in – and others can download that app.  The latest version of Android Jelly Bean 4.2 has t his feature standard on Android – They call it Gesture Typing – Its great and fast and I use it every day.  I love it.  I never was great at texting or typing on a phone.  I only did it with one finger – not two – and my fingers are too big.  The only problem always is if you have a not common word, it always switches it to a more common word.  The thing I want to try that people rave about is the SwiftKey Android app that offers predictive text.  I dont understand why Apple doesnt allow more change; they could still approve apps and make sure it fits with the iPhone…Id think people would want more flexibility – but most IPhone users have never had an Android (and vice versa) so people dont know.  But its not like Gesture Typing/Swyping is a new invention.  People have been using it for years.

  • STEVEN

    @jabombardier Do you like Swift Key?  I havent tried it yet cuz Im cheap but everyone seems to rave about it.  Since I have a Nexus device, I have this type of keyboard already; they call it Gesture Typing and its a built in feature of Android Jelly Bean 4.2  It doesnt involve a separate keyboard; you just slide your fingers and it seems to work on all apps, email , texts for me

  • jabombardier

    @STEVEN i love love love swiftkey. Currently the gesture typing or swyping is in beta still for what will be called swiftkey flow. If you have a Nexus with 4.2 then obviously swiftkey is reduntant. But for a non nexus device, it is well worth having.

  • wealthychef

    Actually, this still sucks.  There is no way I’m going to hop back and forth between TouchPal app and my chat or email client in order to get swyping.  And as for the TouchPal Cydia hack, it does not use the same swype system and is terribly inaccurate for me.  So basically iPhone continues to lag behind in this BASIC technology because Apple insists on controlling the “keyboard experience”.  Switching to Android is not really an option for me as I’m happy with the synchronizing of the other pieces with my mac ecosystem — too big a risk to jump ship.  But it sucks to be left in the cold on this one.