The Ginger keyboard tale
Once upon a time, the walled garden was the standard for all mobile phone users. A walled garden is a closed software ecosystem where the service provider has full control over the user experience and restricts access to non-approved applications and content. We all had to live by the value-added services provided by our mobile operators and that was pretty much it!
When Apple introduced the first iPhone back in June 2007, they chose to build it within the same walled garden concept. It matched their long lasting philosophy that was implemented across all of their products up until then and since. As long as you “live under the Apple roof” you will enjoy a superb, well-controlled user experience, but in return, you will have to oblige by the Apple rules and be exposed only to what Apple decided it wants you to be exposed to (after setting up the Apple-serving business model behind the scenes of course).
Apple’s competitors on the other hand, chose a totally different path (did anyone in the crowd mention Google?). The open source, “all are welcome” path. This approach obviously promised users a lot more freedom of choice, but it usually came with a price (at least in its initial stages) of a slightly bug-y user experience. And the two existed in parallel, each with its own fans.
Lately, we can see some cracks in the walls of the Apple garden. Is it a sign of a revolutionary change of approach? Is it because Apple started to realize that more and more people prefer their garden’s walls open? After all, not too long ago Android overtook iOS as the most popular operating system in the US (and the US was an iPhone country to begin with). Here are the most recent numbers I could find: According to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech (July 2014), Android now holds 61.9% of the U.S. market share and Apple only 32.5%. Internationally, Android is even stronger with 82.7% market share in China and 73.3% across Europe in countries including the UK, France, Germany Spain and Italy.
No matter the reason, the fact remains that with the announcement of iOS 8 and the iPhone 6, third party developers now have a lot more options than before.
One great example is the third party keyboards that Android users have been enjoying for years. This new world will now be opened to iPhone users as well. Let’s look at the Ginger keyboard app for example. Yes, it will give you the standard keyboard features such as word prediction and smart typing features. But, as the fruit of a company with patented linguistic algorithms, this keyboard also hides a full-fledged writing solution behind its keypads. Yes, all the writing tools that you can think of are at your fingertips with this tiny little keyboard on your iPhone (or iPad) screen. I assume by now that all of you iPhone users out there who are reading this have a small grin on your face… well, let’s make it even bigger shall we? Grammar checking, proofreading, immediate translation between more than 40 languages, contextual synonyms and suggested re-phrasing, text reader and more, are part of the offering.
Download Ginger Keyboard for iOS 8 in the AppStore.
Apple users are known to be on-the-individualistic-side, design freaks. So you can customize the look and feel of your keyboard, choosing from a set of pre-designed themes or designing your own theme from scratch, using it and sharing it with your friends and family so that they can enjoy your genius artsy spirit.
So if until now you were slightly bored with the iPhone writing experience, and embarrassed by your overlooked typos and grammar mistakes, while being very impressed by the writing skills of your friends and family who are Android users (SMS, emails, WhatsApp messages), you can now join the gang. Don’t forget to thank Apple for slightly opening the gates of their garden, and hope that in the next iOS version releases the gate will be opened even wider.