Indic Keyboard 1Indic Keyboard 2

Swathanthra Malayalam Computing (SMC) developed open source Indian language input keyboard application for Android mobile devices Indic Keyboard has crossed 100,000 downloads on the Google Play Store. It supports 15 Indian languages including Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu, besides Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) and Burmese (Myanmar).

Most of the supported languages have 3 layouts – phonetic, inscript and transliteration. However, all devices don’t yet provide font support for all languages, which is a challenge.

Started in 2012, the app was initially developed by Jishnu Mohan as part of his androidtweak.in project, and later several other coders contributed to it. Version 1.0 of Indic Keyboard was supported by DIT R & D Project undertaken by International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), Govt. of Kerala. It was released on Play Store in April last year.

Anivar Aravind, who had co-ordinated the project for ICFOSS and was the former secretary of SMC, told Medianama that some of primary challenges for increased Indic language support on mobile are:

– Reading support (Rendering and font support in devices)

– Input Methods (Keyboard)

– Locales and OS Interface localization and their standardization

– Application-level localization

– Indian language processing support (eg LibIndic Project) and developer adoption

Competition

– Reverie Language Technologies had launched a multilingual keyboard app for Android smartphones and tablets called Swalekh that supports typing in 11 Indian languages, in January this year.

– In October last year, 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.

– 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.