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The Keyword

Google in Asia

An easier way to type in Hindi and 10 other Indian languages

Typing on a mobile is pretty straightforward for English and other Latin script-based languages, but not so for other languages, like Chinese, which is character-based, or Hindi, which has a complex script system. Nor is this a new problem. In 1959, India's fastest typist, S. N. Nilakhe, held the English speed-typing record of 149 words a minute. However when on a Hindi keyboard, even his fleet fingers could only managed 86 words a minute.

An excerpt from July 1959 edition of The Rotarian

Fast forward to today's touchscreen age, and it's clear that technology has come a long way from the days of the humble typewriter. However until recently, our keyboards remained largely the same. This is a daily frustration for the nearly one billion people around the world who speak Indian languages and want to type in them. To help make things a little easier, we developed a keyboard that lets you input Hindi—and ten other Indian languages—with your phone or tablet more easily.

Once you've downloaded the Google Indic Keyboard from the Play store and enabled Hindi keyboard in your settings, select the Hindi tab to switch to the Hindi keyboard.

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Using the Google Hindi keyboard you can type in the Hindi or English alphabets and select the globe key to switch between languages

Tapping on the tab a second time will give you a way to select either the Hindi keyboard, a transliteration keyboard, or handwriting input which recognizes both Devanagari—the alphabet used for Hindi—and Latin characters.

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With the Devanagari alphabet keyboard you can type in Hindi using transliteration or handwriting input modes

Hindi's complexity and the variety in the ways people communicate posed a number of challenges when developing the keyboard. For example, a single Hindi word can have multiple English-alphabet variations. The popular boy’s name, "आदित्य"" in Devanagari, can be input as “Aditya,” “Aaditya” or “Adhitya”. We also had to find a way to fit Hindi's 12 vowels and 36 consonants into a standard, ~40 character keyboard.

What’s more, it's very common to communicate and type in “Hinglish”—a mix of English and Hindi written in the English alphabet. This is why we built the Hindi keyboard in a way that gives people a range of options. So now when you’re in English mode, you can type in Hinglish and get suggestions for Hinglish and English.
The new keyboard gives suggestions in both Hinglish and English

The Google Indic Keyboard app has been downloaded over 10 million times. By making mobile input easier for almost one billion speakers of Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu, we also hope to see more engaging content in these languages on the web.

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