Limits of iOS8 Keyboards

One of the things many people were excited about with iOS was 3rd party keyboards. While I think this will lead to more innovation the fact is the iOS8 keyboard is pretty fantastic on its own. Far better than any of the the 3rd party keyboards I’ve played with on Android.

I have to confess that one of the few reasons I still jailbreak is for SwipeSelection, a nice little addition that gives you cursor control via swiping. At WWDC I was really excited that this feature could be part of an unjailbroke system. There’s a bit of sad news though. I Love Swift had a good post on writing a keyboard that had a nice summary of the limits of third party keyboards.

What a custom keyboard can’t do

There are certain text input objects that your custom keyboard is not eligible to type into: secure fields (aka. passwords), phone pad objects (like the phone number fields in Contacts).

Your custom keyboard does not have access to the view hierarchy of the input, it cannot control the cursor and select text.

Also the custom keyboard cannot display anything above the top row (like the system keyboard when you long press a key on the tow row).


So there remains a good reason to jailbreak. I actually jailbroke a few days ago now that the 7.1 jailbreak is finally out. Much to my surprise I only installed Swipe Selection and Nitrous. The latter gives 3rd party web views access to the Nitro Javascript system. However with iOS8 all web views get this thanks to XPC. So iOS’ lousy cursor movement remains the missing link.

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