Google has finally released a text input app which allows users to type in Hindi on their Android phones, called Google Hindi Input (Hat Tip – Rishi Seth). The app is currently available as a free download on the Google Play Store and is compatible with all Android devices running Android 2.2 or later.
Note that Google already offers Hindi as an inbuilt input language for all Android devices running on Android 4.1 ‘Jelly Bean’ or later, however Jelly Bean accounts for only 16.5% of all Android devices, as of March 2013. Through this release, the company is probably looking to reach out to other devices which is running on older versions of Android. As of March 2013, around 97.9% of Android devices run on Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’ or later.
How Does It Work? Similar to all other third party keyboards on Android, one can install the app and enable it from the Language & Input option in the phone settings. (We tried it on Nexus 4 running on Android 4.2.2)
We noticed that the app currently offers two types of input modes – a transliteration mode and a regular Hindi keyboard mode. One can enable the transliteration mode by toggling the “a->अ” button on the keyboard, following which one can type in English letters, which gets automatically converted to Devanagiri script while typing. We found the conversion to be quite accurate and it also auto suggests other possible alternatives for that word. We believe this is quite an interesting approach for users who are affluent with English letters and makes the process of writing in Hindi less cumbersome.
Besides this, the app also offers a regular Hindi keyboard with all the vowels and consonants, which can be accessed by toggling the globe button on the keyboard. It also includes all the other additional text input features like text prediction, word completion, or error corrections offered by third party keyboard apps like Swiftkey, Swype and Adaptxt.
Other Languages? While this is a start, we hope that Google will add support for more Indian languages to this app in the future. Interestingly though, this app is called Google Hindi Input and Google offers similar but separate apps for Korean, Japanese and Pinyin languages on the Play Store. So we believe that the company will be releasing dedicated apps for each Indic languages when they do, which is quite a different approach from other third party keyboard apps like Swiftkey, Swype and Adaptxt, which offer all supported Indic languages within their respective apps.
Other Indic Keyboard apps
- SwiftKey offers support for Hindi and Hinglish (a mixture of Hindi and English, with Hindi transliterated into Latin script) languages to its language options. Besides Hindi and Hinglish, the app currently supports 60 different languages, including Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Macedonian, Spanish (Latin America) and Tagalog. Switfkey also allows multi-lingual users to enable up to three languages simultaneously and is available for Rs 99 on the Google Play Store. The company had recently launched a new version of its keyboard app, called SwiftKey 4, which had introduced a new gesture input technology called SwiftKey Flow.
- KeyPoint Technologies also offers an alternative text input app called ‘Adaptxt‘ which provides keyboards for 74 languages including 13 Indic languages like Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu among others and transliterated Indian languages including Hinglish (Hindi + English), Kanglish (Kannada + English), Tenglish (Telugu + English), Tanglish (Tamil + English), Manglish (Malayalam + English), Odinglish (Oriya + English) and Marathinglish (Marathi + English). The app is currently available as free download on the Google Play Store (Phone & Tablet), GetJar Marketplace (Phone & Tablet) and Amazon Appstore and is available for Rs 5 on the Nokia Store.
- AndroidTweak.in had also launched an alternative text input application called Indic Keyboard, which offers support for Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi languages.