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.
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.