Virtual keyboard Fleksy has made its iOS integration open and free to all today, after debuting the SDK with private partners back in December. Fleksy is completely free for developers to use, and integrates seamlessly with the native iOS keyboard as a selectable option in any iOS software. Plus, developers can add it to their apps without using a single line of code.
That’s a key part of what they offer potential developer partners: Fleksy COO and founder Ioannis Verdelis explained that making a third-party keyboard appealing to devs meant ensuring that it can be integrated with a minimum of effort, and without requiring that developers change anything else about their app in the slightest. That isn’t to say that the keyboard isn’t customizable if a developer wants to make tweaks for the sake of design, but they aren’t forced to alter anything to get up and running.
“There’s literally no code required,” he Verdelis explained in an interview. “You drag our framework into your Xcode project, and we handle the rest automagically. We are very proud of this, and this is essential for adoption.”
For users, all that’s required is that they have the app installed on their phone one time, and then a Fleksy button pops up next to the “Cut, Copy, Paste” buttons that come up when you tap in any text field, so long as the app you’re using has integrated Fleksy using the SDK. Settings, dictionaries and other options including color choices are shared across apps, meaning it feels like the Fleksy keyboard is an OS-level feature, despite the fact that it still has to be built into each app individually because of Apple’s restrictions on third-party keyboards. Fleksy has also worked to improve overall keyboard performance with this release in terms of accuracy and adding new languages.
Verdelis says that where in December the initial beta was just designed to show that this could be done, today’s launch is where the startup begins to go after scale. There are 11 partners debuting Fleksy integration today in the App Store, including You Doodle, Cotton Notes, SnapStatus and more, but Verdelis says there are plenty more in the approval pipeline and we should see new Fleksy-supported titles start to roll out daily.
Fleksy is making this free for users and developers, but will monetize instead through paid themes, some of that revenue making its way back to devs.
“We offer themes, some of which are paid, to our users,” Verdelis explained. “These are synced between apps – so if you like the Blue Fleksy, you can buy this and Fleksy magically changes to the Blue theme in all the apps you have with Fleksy. Developers, in fact, will be able to share this revenue through the Apple affiliate program. We will introduce more premium features at a later date, but the keyboard at its core will always be free for users and developers.”
Getting buy-in for a system-level feature on iOS, where third-party devs aren’t able to replace the defaults, is a tough proposition. But Fleksy has done a good job of stacking the odds in their favor as much as is possible, given those constraints.