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Soon, all handsets sold in India to have multi-language support

tech Updated: Dec 07, 2015 18:02 IST
HT Correspondent
Indian Languages

The Indic language keyboard from Google supports 11 regional languages and comes pre-installed in Android devices with Lollipop or higher.

Remember the time when you are unable to read a message sent to you by a friend or relative on the eve of a festival just because it is in some other language than English? If the government has its way then this could be a thing of the past. Soon, all handsets including smartphones sold in India will come with the ability to detect messages and texts in 14 scripts and 22 Indian languages.

Pushed by the Indian Cellular Association (ICA), the department of electronics and IT (DeitY) under the “Digital India” initiative, is on the anvil of making it mandatory for all mobile handsets being manufactured or sold in India to come loaded with the multi-language support feature.

The move would have a momentous impact on the speed of governance and the way utilities and services such as education, health, permissions and licenses are accessed by citizens as only about 10 percent of Indians are supposedly conversant and comfortable in transacting in English language, DeitY said. “Absence of multi-language support feature has been a major stumbling block in unleashing the full power of mobile handset and Digital India vision to utilise the power of mobile handsets as the “device of choice” for implementation for various e-Governance schemes,” it added.

Some features which are likely to be standard features of all future handsets will be to have a minimum 4MB of memory out of which 2MB would be reserved for official Indian Languages support, DeitY said while instructing the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to formally come out with a guideline for making the feature mandatory in future.

The final standard will be published soon after consultations with the industry and other stakeholders as per the process followed at BIS.

Although DeitY’s recommendation strictly asks for the feature to be included it has a small loophole. It dictates that message readability on phones would be provided for all 14 scripts and 22 official Indian languages but says that inputting of text would be available in English, Hindi and at least one additional Indian Language.

Currently both Android and Apple operating systems support most of the commonly-used Indic scripts, languages and also has separate keyboards for them. Other third party applications like SwiftKey and KeyPoint also provide Indic languages support for both operating systems.