swalekh

Reverie Language Technologies has launched ‘Swalekh’, a multilingual keyboard for Android smartphones and tablets. The app supports typing in 11 Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Punjabi and Assamese, other than English. The app allows for three modes of typing, in the native layout, as phonetic typing and in macaronic mode. The native layout is simply letters in the selected language’s script allowing users to directly type in the language of their choice, while the macaronic mode allows for typing words of a selected language in English letters and its native script.

The phonetic typing method is by far the most interesting, it allows users to type in English, which is phonetically transliterated into the selected language’s script. We tested this feature out in Hindi and Marathi, and it did make typing in native scripts a lot easier. Most words we typed in English were accurately transliterated into Hindi/Marathi, although some words were impossible to spell right without using the native keyboard.

The keyboard has other standard features like auto correct, customizable dictionary, vibration/sound alert toggles etc., although it lacked swipe typing, so users will have to resort to ‘thumb typing’. However, the keyboard was overall pretty impressive and with better transliterations and swipe functionality, it will make typing in native languages much easier for those used to English ‘qwerty’ keyboards.

Reverie had previously developed an Indic language framework for digital platforms including mobile phones, Digital TV and PCs, covering Indic language rendering on digital devices, enabling text entry, and providing custom fonts, predictive text, dictionaries and bilingual messaging solutions. It currently also provides an API to create multilingual products for developers and claims to support over 50 languages globally.

Competition:

– Earlier this month, Asus released a new version of its Android keyboard app, adding support for two Indian languages – Hindi and Tamil. The app supports both Android phones and tablets, although its only compatible with Asus devices.

– In October, popular keyboard app SwiftKey had released an updated version of its Android app, adding support for 11 new Indian languages along with Nepali and Sinhala in open beta. The Indian languages now supported are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu, other than Hindi and Hinglish which it had introduced back in December 2012.

– A new Indic Keyboard released by the software collective Swathanthra Malayalam Computing in April last year, allows users to type in 17 Indian languages on Android. This includes Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sinhalese, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and lesser spoken languages like Sanskrit.

KeyPoint Technologies’ text input keyboard app Adaptxt also supports 13 Indic languages, while Nuance Communications-owned Swype added support for Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, and Telugu to its Android app last year and currently supports eight Indian languages including Hindi and Hinglish.