Indic Keyboard SMC

Swathanthra Malayalam Computing (SMC) developed open source Indian language input keyboard application for  Indic Keyboard now supports 23 languages from Asia in its latest version, the non-profit said on its blog. Now the Android application can support Assamese, Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Manipuri, Maithili, Marathi, Mon, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

Started in 2012, the app was initially developed by Jishnu Mohan as part of his 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. The company now claims over 168,000 downloads on the Play Store.

The new keyboard in addition to  phonetic, inscript and transliteration layouts also has a compact keyboard layout which allows users to type Indian languages without the shift key.

The latest version of the app has a number of tweaks and some of them are:

– A new Setup wizard to make it simpler for users to get started.

– Intelligent word suggestion for transliteration which helps typing faster with fewer keystrokes.

– For languages with complex letters the app now has the ability to type ZWJ and ZWNJ characters directly.

– Design changes and users can now choose between four themes.

– A number of bug fixes which can be found on Github.

Tamil Unicode PIL

Users will also remember that a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Madras High Court earlier this month sought the removal of 55 special characters for the Tamil language in the Unicode Standard. In his PIL, petitioner M.Ananda Pandian alleged that the director of Tamil Virtual Academy of Anna University had forwarded the proposal to encode 55 Tamil ancient symbol characters which would affect the classical Tamil language. The PIL further said that the director had not considered expert opinions and had simply forwarded the proposal by a high-level committee member.

Other Indic Language keyboards

–  The Google Handwriting Input application allows users to input in 82 languages and also allows users to draw emojis. For Indic languages however, the application has some trouble recognizing characters which denote phonetic sounds. That said, Google did say on its blog that for complex script languages especially in South Asian languages the keyboard is less standardized and may be unfamiliar.

– Reverie Language Technologies has launchedSwalekh’, 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.

– In January, 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 2014, popular keyboard app SwiftKey had released an updated version of itsAndroid 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.