WWDC 2014 was the platform which introduced iOS 8, one of the most exciting features was that it gave users the option to install third party keyboards on iOS. Up to that point, Apple had restricted users to the stock keyboard while third party keyboards were making big strides on Android, one of the more notable companies being Swiftkey.
Since third party keyboards arrived on iOS there have been a number of companies trying to get it right from Swype to Swiftkey, Fleksy and Minuum. While the efforts have not been bad, I have always had the feeling that none of them are getting it quite right or that there has been something missing. However, after a year in the making, Next Keyboard is now joining the ranks and is made by the company, Tiny Hearts.
Next first caught my attention just over a year ago on Reddit when they posted a sample of what they were working on and I was immediately pulled in, it looked fantastic. Next started out on Kickstarter and it is the first project that I ever backed, as a result I have been running the beta for the past year.
However Next is in beta no more and it the first version is now out there for the public to download on iTunes. The keyboard is iOS only, it has been built specifically with iOS in mind and is not a keyboard who made its home on Android and is porting over to iOS. The fact that it has been built from the ground up for iOS is what sets it aside from the rest.
“We’re on a mission to make the perfect keyboard for iPhone, and [version one] is just the beginning for us,” says Robleh Jama, founder of Tiny Hearts Studio and co-creator of Next. The next version of the app is already in the works and will add swipe typing, at the moment the feature is not present as Tiny Hearts works to improve the prediction engine.
However Next does already boast a few neat features which set it aside from the competition such as the quick swipe cursor which allows you to swipe back over what you have typed to correct errors and mistakes by using the spacebar.
The word prediction does better than most other third party keyboards which have been knocking around for some time now. In fact the only keyboard which I think has the slight edge on Next at the moment is Swiftkey.
It did not take a whole lot of usage before Next was correctly completing sentences for me however the autocomplete can be a bit temperamental at times and it can take a few tries to type certain words. However this is not a common problem and in fact is somewhat of a rarity to come across.
Next also displays upper and lower case on the keyboard depending on whether caps lock is enabled, it is a change that Apple recently made on their own keyboard and one which I personally enjoy. However if you are not a fan of this you can disable it in the settings.
One of the flagship features of Next is an integrated emoji keyboard. Along with suggesting words, Next will also suggest emoji as you type. So if you type the word “poo” then Next will automatically suggests the poo emoji in place of the word. With the popularity of emoji on the rise this is a fantastic little addition and one which could bring your emoji game to the next level.
Next also boasts that you don’t need to enable full access in order for the keyboard to work. Full access has been somewhat controversial since the introduction of iOS 8. According to the Apple terms and conditions, full access allows the developer to transmit anything you type from private messages to credit card information.
Many developers insist that they are not storing this information, however in the age of data leaks users are of course apprehensive. There are also several themes to choose from for your keyboard though in my own opinion the default looks fantastic.
Next is incredibly slick and it is hard to find fault with it, which is a testament to the hard work of the team behind it as the app has only just been publicly released. The only problem I stumbled upon was that the keyboard at times tends to default back to the stock keyboard. However this is a problem encountered by nearly every third party keyboard on iOS so it is hard to say if this issue is from the developers or from Apple itself.
However, if you are looking for a third party keyboard on iOS, this is the one to go for and you can download it today for €3.99 from the App Store.