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Android exclusive SwiftKey and Swype possibly coming to iOS 7?

By James Geddes , Jun 09, 2013 11:00 AM EDT
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Ever since Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company would give third party developers more access to iOS' APIs, it has opened the possibilities for features that have been sorely lacking in the operating system. Apple has kept tight control over what it has allowed developers to access in iOS because it wants to ensure its customers have a completely stable operating system and a smooth and seamless user experience. That stance, however, has hindered iOS from gaining features that are very common in rival operating systems. One of the simplest ways that Apple could allow third party developers access to is the iOS keyboard, which hasn't changed much since its release in 2007.

We reported back in April that the popular Android keyboard replacement Swype had confirmed that it had a meeting with Apple. The company would not go into specifics but it was the first hint that Apple was beginning to loosen the reigns on what's possible in iOS. Apple brought on-screen typing to the masses with the original iPhone, but it has never allowed any keyboard replacements to be offered in the App Store. Two of Android's most downloaded applications are keyboard replacements - Swype and Swiftkey offer users advanced features and choices of input that works best for them.

AllThingsD spoke with Joe Braidwood, Marketing Chief for TouchType, makers of the SwiftKey keyboard app that can replace the stock keyboard on Android smartphones and tablets. He is hoping that Apple's new change of heart on allowing developers more access to iOS means keyboard replacement apps.

"It's great they are thinking in that way," TouchType marketing chief Joe Braidwood said in a telephone interview. "That's very different from the message we would have gotten a year ago."

He went on to say that the most obvious API for Apple to open up would be the keyboard, because in his opinion it's iOS' greatest weakness. When asked how long it would take to port SwiftKey to iOS, he like all developers are waiting to see what Apple announces on Monday at WWDC 2013. He believes if Apple does open up its API for iOS' keyboard it could take a few months, but noted that his company would "jump on it with the greatest speed we could bring to the table."

If Apple does allow keyboard replacement apps, it is very likely that Swype will be the first to be offered, since the company confirmed it met with Apple months ago. We'll have to wait until Monday to see just how open Apple plans on being, but giving consumers a choice in what kind of input works best for them is great for all parties involved.

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