Ten years after Google, Microsoft and Apple have brought in Indic language keyboards


  • Microsoft just announced support for phonetic keyboards in its May updates for Windows 10.
  • This comes after Apple announced support for 22 Indian languages on its new operating system, iOS13, at the WWDC in June.
  • Google, on the other hand, has had Indic keyboard integration since 2009.
As global giants look to India to steer their next phase of growth, more and more India specific features are being introduced.

Microsoft, one of the world’s leading computer software companies, launched smart phonetic keyboards for 10 Indian languages as part of its May 2019 update.

This update comes right after Apple, Microsoft’s key competitor, announced that it will offer bilingual keyboards with predictive text support for Hindi and 22 Indian languages for its new operating system, the iOS 13 during WWDC — Apple’s annual developers conference.

Google has had it since 2009 — that’s ten years ago.

While the development is certainly commendable, it’s a little late — around ten years too late.

The big deal about a phonetic keyboard

A phonetic keyboard allows you to type in one language, while the output is another language.

For example, if you type ‘Bharat’ using characters in English, a phonetic keyboard will write out the same in Devnagri script, the characters used to write Hindi.

...And why it’s not a big deal

The fact that Microsoft’s integrated that into the Windows system is a feat, but the technology has been around since at least five years ago. Services like quillpad and lipikaar are popular transliteration tools in the Indian market.

Another popular solution is the indic.app. It’s a Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) award winning Android app that turns your phone’s keyboard into a phonetic device that can support 23 languages in 57 different layouts.

India also had open source software called Padma that supports Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Devanagari (including Marathi), Gujarati, Bengali, and Gurmukhi.

The convenience of having of having a phonetic keyboard within Microsoft can’t be understated and will a boon to many — unless, they’re already used to whatever solution they have in place before now.

See also:
Microsoft's new AI writing tool can spot your unconscious biases

Google is going local by grooming Indian content providers

Apple’s iOS 13 shows the company is finally listening to users in India



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