Although iOS has a solid built-in emoji keyboard, there are some alternatives that can make the process of adding the perfect one to your latest missive even better.
All of these apps install as third-party keyboards. After downloading the app, you can configure the keyboard by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > Add New Keyboard. The keyboard apps you have installed will then show up.
To access these keyboards, click on the global hotkey next to the microphone key on your regular keyboard. Pressing and holding on it will let you select the keyboard you want or you can cycle through different options with a simple tap.
What it does: Slash is a power user’s keyboard that’s supercharged to work with a ton of different apps. Use the “/” key on the keyboard to add in or search for information from Giphy, Spotify, Apple Music, Twitter and more.
Why it’s awesome: For emoji users, the emoji search function is awesome. Just type in the genre of emoji you want and those related to your search appear. Tap and go.
To get all the features of Slash Keyboard, you’ll need to give it full access in your keyboard settings.
2. Emoji Type
What it does: Emoji Type takes the words you type on screen and recommends emoji based on those words. So if I’m typing in “pizza,” the emoji bar above my keyboard will show me pizza. Food will show other food items, etc.
Why it’s awesome: Having your emoji autocomplete as you type is a really cool. However, it’s not yet updated to work with the new emoji from iOS 9.1.
What it does: First released for iOS 8 (and partially deprecated after the release of iOS 9), Emoji++ is a simple keyboard that makes it easier to scroll through every emoji on your phone.
Why it’s awesome: The interface itself is pretty similar to the default emoji keyboard for iOS, except you scroll vertically instead of horizontally. But the keyboard shows all of your recent emoji and lets you create your own favorites list — and it can be customized to display the skin tone of your choice. It also works with the new iOS 9.1 emoji.
What it does: Minuum is made for super-fast autocorrects. It learns how you type and is designed to be quick and efficient. The best part? It works with emoji.
Why it’s awesome: Typing in a word also pulls up an emoji in the autocomplete bar at the top of the screen, which is useful for those times you really want to add in a musical note, but don’t want to stop typing to add it in.
Price: At $3.99, Minuum isn’t the cheapest keyboard, but you get a lot of bang for your buck in addition to emoji autocomplete.
5. Built-in keyboard
What it does: It’s the default emoji keyboard that lets you brighten up any message with an emoji.
Why it’s awesome: Since iOS 8.3, the emoji section has been easier to navigate, thanks to Apple’s organization of emoji into categories. Long-pressing on emoji with people bring up skin options.
How to get it: In the Settings app, open up General > Keyboard >Keyboards and select Add New. Then tap Emoji an the emoji keyboard will now show up every time you hit the emoji button on your keyboard.