How to Install and Activate Third-Party Keyboards in iOS 8

One of the most widely anticipated new features of iOS 8 is the ability to install third-party keyboards. Sure, Android users and Jailbreakers will point out that they've been able to use them for years. Fine, we'll concede the point. But we've got them now, too—and we let them shake out all the bugs. So thanks for that.

If you're keen to give an alternate keyboard a spin, the process is easy but not obvious. Here's how to do it:

Obtaining a third-party keyboard is as easy as downloading an app from the App Store. In fact, that's exactly what it is.

For our example, we'll install SwiftKey Keyboard by SwiftKey. It's a keyboard already popular on Android devices, and has a "swipe" method of inputting text that's vastly different from Apple's native keyboard and worth trying out. (Plus, it's free.)

Add a New Keyboard

Once you've downloaded SwiftKey (or the keyboard of your choice) you have to tell your iOS device that it's there and OK to use. To do this, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards and choose "Add New Keyboard..." Choose your newly installed keyboard and slide the switch to allow full access. You'll have to acknowledge a scary notice that talks about how a developer can transmit any information you type on its keyboard, so let that be a reminder to only download keyboards from a trusted source. (Like the App Store. Take that sideloaders.)

Once installed, you can switch keyboards by using the little globe icon to the left of the space bar. Tapping will cycle you through available keyboards (this may also be your introduction to the "Emoji" keyboard that comes preinstalled on iOS 8. Tap and hold and you'll get a list of all available keyboards -- simply tap on the one you want. A bonus tip: You can also turn predictive typing on or off from this menu.

May your fingers enjoy their new-found freedom.