SwiftKey has introduced a transliteration feature for Hindi and Gujarati speakers, enabling users to type in English letters and automatically have it converted to one of these languages without having to change keyboard modes. The feature essentially detects the language the user is typing in and shows prediction in English and native language script, for example, typing in ‘namaste’ will display both “namaste” and “नमस्ते” on the prediction bar.
The feature will be automatically enabled for those SwiftKey users that have Hindi or Gujarati language modules installed on their phones. Note that while the feature will display suggestions in both English and the enabled local language when using the QWERTY keyboard, on switching to the Hindi keyboard for example, the app will display only Hindi suggestions. We tried to test the transliteration supprt, however, it doesn’t seem like the update is available to all users yet.
Transliteration on other services: The new transliteration feature is similar to Reverie Language Technologies Swalekh keyboard, which enables users to type in English, and phonetically transliterate words into the selected language’s script. Facebook had also launched a similar feature – a Hindi text editor on its Android app, that would let users type in Devanagari script using any QWERTY keyboard. Google had also launched a text input app allowing users to type in Hindi on their Android phones, back in 2013.
SwiftKey already supports over 15 Indian languages, including languages like Assamese, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya, Telugu, Urdu, Tamil, Nepali and Sinhala, other than Hindi and Hinglish. Interestingly, earlier this year, the company had partnered with linguists from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi for adding more Indian languages.