Fleksy wasted no time in getting its third-party software keyboard onto iOS 8, after Apple announced it would be supporting outside input software system-wide. The startup is also accepting beta tester applications now, so if you’re running the pre-release build of Apple’s mobile OS, you can apply now to try it out on your device.
The Fleksy keyboard is unique because it aims to provide users with a typing experience that doesn’t actually require you to look at your device or the keyboard keys themselves to type things out. Originally conceived as a way to help people with visual impairments interact with their smartphones and other gadgets, Fleksy now aims to be the next-generation input method of choice for the next wave of connected devices.
Fleksy has raised nearly $4 million from investors including KPCB and Highland Capital, and has been focusing on its Android efforts primarily until now. A common theme with my interviews with co-founder Ioannis Verdelis has been the potential on iOS, and the opportunity presented should Apple relax its previous policy of not allowing third-party software to become the default keyboard on its mobile OS. They had options before, to be sure, including reaching out to developers to get their software installed as a custom option within apps, but now, the field is open for the startup to prove it can do much more in terms of growth and user numbers on Apple hardware.
There are still some challenges to building a system keyboard for iOS, as Apple doesn’t provide access to things like dictation, automatic capitalization and autocorrect suggestions via API, so these have to be built by keyboard makers themselves if they want them to be included. Fleksy has been working on these and other features since its inception, however, so they should be ahead of the game when it comes time to launch.