New Keyboards in iOS 8

This has been a long standing complaint. This has been something Android users just love to remind iOS users about. Custom Keyboards, and the lack of being able to use custom keyboards on iDevices. Well, until now that is. Custom keyboard extensions are now a reality on iOS with the new iOS 8’s extensibility feature. This allows developers to replace the default system-wide keyboard with their own keyboards for most of iOS. Some exceptions are in place such as password fields. I will talk about the exceptions more below.  But you can now find favourites from those other guys on iOS such as SwiftKey which I am learning to use.

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Custom keyboards are not something new on iOS. For a while now Apple has allowed developers to make custom keyboards for their own apps. But they could only exist within their own apps. Some of these examples are small like including a small button for the Camera. Others, more noticeable include modifier keys for social network apps, that you can easily and quickly do a @mention, or a #hashtag. But now with iOS 8 those custom keyboards can be used system wide for almost anything.

Now that custom keyboards can be used system wide, Apple put limitations in some places for security and privacy. Custom keyboards are restricted to the device. Internet access is prevented unless explicit permission is given. You are stuck with the iOS default Apple keyboard for secure text fields, like password input fields. They also don’t have access to the phone system for calling, IE the Phone dial pad.  I have read about other limitations but for now I will leave it at those listed above. After all, this is Extensibility 1.0 and you can’t have everything in a version 1 release.

The method for installing the keyboard is similar to installing any app. You browse the Apple Store for a custom keyboard. Some are free and some have a cost attached to it. You download it like an App. After it has been downloaded the custom keyboard extension will be available system-wide. Providing full access to the custom keyboard requires a setting toggle. Go to settings, General, and Keyboards to select it. From there you will have the option to Allow Full Access.  When you open up an app to type on, if you press on the globe to change keyboards, you should see the new custom keyboard.

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Overall I think this is a great addition to iOS and I can’t wait to see what developers create to take advantage of this new freedom. This is a version 1 implementation. It is bound to get better with more access and additional abilities down the road.

Handoff iOS 8

Ok this is a pretty cool feature. Not the easiest to figure out at first glance. Basically what ever app you are in on your phone that supports it. Like email, iMessage, and Safari you can handoff or transfer what you are doing by going to the other device, which in my case is a iPad mini, and swiping up from the little icon that is on the bottom left hand of the lock screen. The icon will reflect what ever app that supports handoff is open on the first device. In this case it was Safari. I started on the iPhone then moved to the iPad. You can see the icon on the bottom left of the iPad lock screen.

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Just added the On-Site Computer Service to the site

Hello every one.

I just added the on-site computer service page to my website. It lists the forms of payment I accept and the price rate for on-site service.

Please remember to book in advance for in home service. Rate is $100.00 for the first hour with each additional hour being $50.00.

http://www.brianboisvert.com/products-and-service/consumer-products-and-services/computer-repair-service/

Northern Lights – Vancouver

It’s looking like a very good stellar show will occur later tonight into Saturday morning. Earth is being hit by not one but two back to back solar storms. One of them very high on the intensity scale. This will no doubt cause a massive Northern lights or Aurora Borealis as it’s proper name is to be seen as far south as Washington State in the West and New York in the East. I imagine it is best to get away from the city lights so, Chilliwack and beyond would be my suggested viewing locations.

Additionally it might be a good night to unplug electronics you don’t want fried. While unlikely to it’s a remote risk. The power grid is also at risk so ensuring anything that uses batteries for a back up or should have battery back up get tested or implemented. In October of 2003 a series of solar storms damaged power grids in Europe and Africa. GPS and compasses can be affected to for those planning on going for a hike or a drive.

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