One of the best tweaks to iOS has been the ability to launch third-party keyboards. With iOS 8, you can download and install third party keyboards quickly and easily. For those of you who may have considered jumping ship to get a fresh take on your keyboard, you can keep that iPhone.

Here we’ll round up the top five iOS 8 third-party keyboards for you, and even give suggestions on who may be best served by them. You never know, you might find a new favorite!

Minuum

The keyboard that can make a home anywhere is now making itself comfy on iPhones, iPods, and iPads everywhere. Minuum is clean, straightforward, and downright sexy. For those who really want a departure from the stock keyboard, Minuum is a good option.

Cool and modern, Minuum also has a fantastic word prediction and autocorrect service attached to it. You can keep it standard, or shrink it down to give yourself more screen to look at. That tiny mode gives you more screen real estate, and is where the word prediction really shines. Let’s face it, you’re going to screw words up tapping along the bottom 1/10 of your screen, no matter what screen it is, without a great word prediction engine. If you’re looking for something really different, give Minuum a shot.

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Fleksy

Like Minuum, Fleksy is a very modern keyboard with no actual button interface. Letters are strewn across the bottom of your screen, giving it a sleek look that will draw attention from just about anyone.

Fleksy is also a typist’s dream come true. With a little work, you can pick up on the gesture-based system of editing that makes Fleksy awesome. Those gestures are used to add punctuation, toggle between word suggestions, and even create space between words if you don’t want to see the space bar.

Fleksy is also wonderfully customizable, and can be docked in three seperate sizes. Colors let you get granular with personalization, and while the learning curve is a bit steep — it’s well worth it.

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Swiftkey

Once Apple announced third-party keyboards were coming to iOS 8, everyone looked in Swiftkey’s direction. The famed Android keyboard is now available for iOS, and brings a lot of the same functionality found across the mobile OS pond.

The killer feature is swipe-to-type, which can be handy for one-handed use. Once you get the hang of the swiping motion, you’ll resist putting a second thumb on your screen ever again. The only drawback for Swiftkey is that swiping isn’t available for iPad yet, so you’re left to hack away at keys on your tablet for now.

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Swype

Oh, you like swiping? Well why not try the champ on for size? Swype does one thing, and it does it (arguably) better than any other: swipe-to-type.

Swype’s interface is simple, uncluttered, and begging to be swiped across. There isn’t much to it, but there doesn’t have to be. You want to swipe, and it wants you to. Why don’t you two get a room and swipe it out, huh?

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MyScript Stack

Forget all this typing and swiping talk — let’s write! If you really want to have an existential break from iOS reality, give Stack a shot. Rather than typing or sliding a finger across the screen, you get to write. Remember that? That thing you did in school?

A sparse box at the bottom of your screen lets you actually write letters with a finger or stylus. Stack’s recognition engine is pretty good, too. It actually picked up on my weird handwriting style, never missing a beat.

To really get away form it all, give Stack a shot. It’s an interesting concept, if nothing more. Also, a great way to teach the kids to write, because they’re still in school and can’t have ice cream for dinner like you.

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Try them!

Do yourself a favor and download these keyboards right now! At worst, you spend two bucks on a keyboard that makes you shrug. You spend more than that on coffee you can’t finish!

If you’re looking to snap-up one, it depends on how you type. As a thumb-ninja, I like Fleksy. It’s quick, easy, responsive, and looks cool. the learning curve can be daunting, but once you get the hang of it, look out everyone thinking it will take forever to hear back from you!

If you’re into the swiping, both Swype and Swiftkey offer a great experience. Though Swiftkey has a cool cloud-based system that will transfer the typing habits it learns about you to other devices, the swipe feature isn’t available for iPad yet.

Swiping on a phone and hacking out words on an iPad isn’t cool, so we recommend Swype in this case. It’s effective, beautiful, and just plain performs as advertised.

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