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Custom Keyboards - No Thanks

I think Gabe hits this one right on the head.

Despite what I notice as a strange communal sense of relief that custom keyboards have finally come to iOS, when I look into how they work all I see is another vector of attack or misuse of personal data.

For example, if Swiftkey were to get bought by Facebook or Google 1, These companies would potentially gain access to a treasure trove of your information – basically everything you’ve ever typed. And even if Swiftkey were simply storing data about how you write and what you type to help your typing accuracy, having your writing tendencies in Facebook’s possession would provide major assistance in tuning the content (read: advertisements) on your Activity Feed.

Maybe I’m paranoid but giving a company that kind of trust seems like a recipe for disaster.

As a consumer, when you look at the custom keyboards available on the App Store it’s hard to know what they’re doing behind the scenes. As Gabe mentions, we willingly put ourselves in the position of relying solely on the App review process to protect our data and privacy. Since we have seen Apple reviewers allow the release of Pokemon knockoffs consisting of a few screenshots, I worry that they don’t have a tight enough grip to give us an airtight bubble around our personal data. Some of that responsibility falls to us.

Because allowing something to watch what I type isn’t risk free, I’m not going to take the chance.

  1. It would be a match made in heaven.