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swypeHere’s a surprise from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference: iOS 8, the next version of Apple’s operating system for iPad and iPhone, will add support for third-party keyboards, allowing users to replace the native keyboard from Apple.

This is a breakthrough for keyboard apps including SwiftKey and Swype, which was a Seattle startup before its acquisition by Nuance Communications, which continues to offer Swype for Android.

On stage at WWDC this morning, Apple used Swype as an example in its slides, showing Swype’s signature feature of quickly inputting words by dragging a finger across the screen to connect letters.

Mike McSherry, the former Swype CEO who recently left Nuance, had long aimed to get Swype onto the iPhone. He tells GeekWire via email that he’s “excited to see it finally happen,” noting that Swype’s first meeting with Apple was five years ago.

“I’m sure this will instantly capture millions of app downloads,” says McSherry, noting that Swype support was the only reason he has remained loyal to Android for the last five years.

He adds, “I’ll certainly be checking out iPhone 6!”

Apple’s iOS 8 was shown for the first time this morning, scheduled for release this fall. Among many other features, the company is enhancing its native iOS keyboard with predictive word suggestions as people are typing.

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