As phones evolved, the generic keypad that we used to type texts was soon replaced. First by physical QWERTY keyboards, and then by on-screen keyboards that, as our phone screens grow bigger, make typing more comfortable. With the advent of on-screen keyboards and open systems like Android, newer ways to make typing easier were invented signaling the start of third-party keyboards. Developers created keyboards that had added features to make typing easier and OftenType is one excellent attempt at creating a keyboard that makes it easier to enter redundant information like your phone number or an address. It is a $1.99 iOS app (requires iOS 8.1 or above) that lets you can create custom keys for phone numbers, addresses, names, and more. A simple tap on the key will allow you to enter an email address or a street address without having to type it all out.
OftenType needs to be granted full access from the Settings app under General>Keyboard once it’s been installed. It then needs to be set up i.e. you must create your custom keys from the app’s interface. The app also allows for multiple extensions of the same email to be created i.e. if you have an email address with different services with the same ID but different domains, you can add them all to one key.
Tap ‘add key’ and then select what kind of information you want to enter. You can save emails, names and phone numbers, and street addresses and assign them to custom keys. Tap the key for the information you want to save, enter it and tap Done. Only keys that have information associated with it appear in the keyboard when you switch to it.
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OftenType is pretty good; it’s something like a text expander for important information that you need to enter but in a much more refined form. That said, the keyboard could do with minor improvements. Since it allows you to save multiple emails and phone numbers, even addresses to multiple keys, there should be a way to tell which information is saved to a key, just by looking at it in the keyboard. It might be something as simple as tapping and holding the key to preview the information. Other than that, OpenType is pretty amazing and a great example of what makes third party keyboards so important for smartphones.