More movement on the Indian language front: Yahoo has launched its mail app on Android app in seven Indian languages: Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Marathi: what’s important with this launch is that the application automatically detects the language setting of the users phone, and switches to that language, and the user doesn’t need to pick a language each time.
Still not easy
At the same time, there are issues:
– Can’t change the language interface for the app alone: we tried the app, and it doesn’t allow users to choose a different language interface within the application. While we need more applications that support Indian languages, what is really missing, and where perhaps Google has failed, is the lack of development of Indian language operating systems, on the lines of what Indus OS has done, and what Xiaomi allows.
– I’m on a Xiaomi phone, which has Indian language OS support, so I was able to use email in Hindi by changing my system language to Hindi. Even that application name was in English.
– Indic email addresses? That said, it’s not likely that a Hindi email address would work, because email addresses don’t translate. I would need a निखिल@मीडीयानामा.कॉम email address that is separate from email@example.com, and the मीडीयानामा.कॉम domain separate from medianama.com (I do), for this to work. There’s also a paid Hindi email service by xgen plus, which supports email addresses in Hindi, but frankly, this is where messaging will replace emailing for most new users: too many hoops to jump through.
The Bureau of Indian Standards has now mandated Indic language keyboard support for phones sold in India. Perhaps it’s also time for the government to mandate Indian language support for operating systems: the “market” – at least the larger players – has clearly failed here.
More new users expected online over the next few years
This launch comes at a time when India is seeing a dramatic shift in pricing of wireless broadband access, with Reliance Jio launching free wireless broadband services, and claiming to add 16 million users since launch (including the trial period). Telecom operators have already seen a significant growth in data consumption year on year.