Centre for Internet & Society
Typing in Indic Languages from Mobiles made Easy!

A picture of a mobile phone demonstrating typing in Indic languages

A new app is up for typing in Indic languages from mobile phones. This is is available online at: http://bitly.com/indictyping and supports on iOS. Android version is to be released soon.

"There are two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors."
Phil Karlton

Yuvi Panda smiles saying this. Yuvi Panda, a former Wikimedia Foundation contractor and developer was here in our Delhi office and I had an opportunity to spend some time discussing some of the technical problems that we have been facing.

One of the major setback most people have with their phones is the lack of language support and lack of typing support for Indic languages. Fortunately most of the new generation phones support Indic languages. Three of the major operating systems used currently by most phones are Android, Windows, Blackberry and iOS. Android being an open source operating system has extensive community support and developments which is something we were primarily hopeful while starting this project. Windows phones also have a good number of user base in India and support for Indic languages on Windows is really good. Though iOS has good support for Indic display there is no support for typing. IOS, Windows and Blackberry all being proprietary have really less community support and any tool available on these app market would be proprietary. So, our idea was to start a cross platform app which will use the available jQuery ime used for Indic typing for Indic Wikipedias and sister projects.

Currently, most of the Indic language Wikipedias use a typing tool called Narayam ( "Narayam" is a Malayalam word which refers to a metal stylus that was used for writing on palm leaves and papyrus in ancient days). By default the typing scheme for most of the language wikipedias is set to transliteration or phonetic. An Indian mobile user would normally type his own language using Roman letters from a mobile. "और दोस्त सब ठीक है?" in Hindi would be typed as "Aur dost sab thik hai?" when someone pings a friend on facebook or sends a text message. Now with the new typing tool you need to type "aur dosta saba thiika hai?" to get the same text in Devanagari script. This typing scheme is almost same like the phonetic typing most people use for regional languages on mobile which is why typing won’t be much of difference. In terms of usability most people would use the typed text either for web search in regional languages, Facebook posts, tweeting or even sending mails and text messages.

The detailed procedure for typing using this tool is documented at: http://goo.gl/HdVJW. Indic typing tool is available at: http://bitly.com/indictyping

Scan the QR code below using your QR code application to go "Indic typing tool".

QR Code for Indic typing tool

Developer speaks:

This is a simple tool that lets you type in your native language on mobile phones. Currently only iOS devices are supported.

The tool is a simple wrapper around Wikimedia Foundation Language Engineering's jquery.ime project. It simply adds a much easier to use (on a mobile device) language selector, and makes it available offline (on iOS devices).

Quick links:

https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm7QgsoyjnbkCgiU1kkCMx3rIJDYDIoJgY says:
Dec 08, 2012 06:07 AM

Nice to hear about the development.
Android users have access to free app called Multiling supporting worldwide languages for over an year. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.klye.ime.latin&hl=en Hope the initiative can improve upon the existing solutions.

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