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Govt makes mandatory for phone to have support for Hindi & 1 Indian official language


21 Jun 2013
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Even as the Indian smartphone market is growing exponentially, local language support in smartphones hasn’t become mainstream as yet. Though, several international technology companies have been embracing local languages to further grow in the country. Companies like Indus have been working to bring the native support for local language within smartphones to get more people onboard with the growing culture of smartphones, and the ongoing Digital India mission wherein one can access government services on the go in their native language. Now, the Indian government is ensuring there’s more support to the Indian languages by making it mandatory for mobile phones to support Hindi and at least one regional language. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has released a new circular that sets a deadline of July 1, 2017 for all handset manufacturers to add support for text in English, Hindi and at least one more official Indian language. The directive also says that all mobile phones should support reading of text in the recognized 22 Indian languages.

The initiative is a part of the government’s program called Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (Disha) scheme, which aims to multiply the IT literacy among the Indian citizens, and is especially targeted at the rural India. It also aims at making users communicate in local languages and access government services like e-payment, mobile wallet via their phones which will now support local Indian languages.

Currently, there are many mobile phones available in the market which supports regional languages. In fact, not just smartphone makers are looking to support the regional language system, Mumbai-based Indus OS, Baidu, hike Messenger have also taken initiatives to support Indian languages. Mumbai-based homegrown Indus OS has recently announced its partnership with Karbonn Mobiles to provide better Indian language support system. The company has already partnered Micromax, Celkon and Swipe for supporting Indian languages in their phones. The Indus keyboard is one of the keyboards that allow Indian smartphone users to type with ease and familiarity in the language known to them. It also offers the auto-correction and the matra-prediction features in 12 languages. These include English, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Kannada, Bengali, Urdu, Telugu, Malayalam, Odia, Tamil and Assamese.

Domestic handset manufacturer Micromax has launched the smartphones like Unite 4 and Unite 4 pro that support 12 Indian language texts. The smartphones run Indus OS and the service is available in more than 35 Micromax smartphones. Micromax has sensed the requirement and hence offered a many smartphones that lets one read and write in their own regional language whether it is Marathi, Punjabi or Bengali.

Back in 2013, Intex launched Matrabhasha app which is an onscreen virtual keyboard that supports input in 21 Indian languages including, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Maithili, Marathi, Bodo, Santhali, Manipuri, Sindhi, Dogri, Konkani, Nepali, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya and Telugu. The app lets you store and search phonebook contacts in the chosen language and can also send text messages in a language of your choice. Now, all Intex smartphones are preloaded with Matrabhasha app.

The latest directive comes months after the Indian Cellular Association (ICA) reportedly worked with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for several minimum standards for phones. One of the proposed standards said that the devices should also support message readability in 14 scripts and 22 official languages, other than being able to support texts in English, Hindi and at least one other Indian language. It also said that the devices should have a minimum of 4MB memory on all phones, out of which 2MB should be reserved for official Indian languages support.

In a related development, the Indian government has also announced that no mobile can be sold, stored or manufactured in the country without an in-built panic button and global positioning system (GPS) starting January 1, 2017, and January 1, 2018, respectively. The move aims to help improve security of women and increase accountability of the security forces as well. The then broadcast minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, signed documents that said any feature phones without the facility of panic button by pressing Numeric key — 5 or Numeric key — 9 to call up emergency call” shall not be sold in India. Smartphone makers like Videocon have already started installing ‘Panic Button app’ across its entire product line-up. The company has launched the ‘SOS-Be Safe’ emergency response app on the Videocon Cube 3. The SOS-Be Safe app is highly responsive and alert and includes features like emergency alert, walk with me, and reach on time.

Government makes it mandatory for phones to have support for Hindi and one Indian official language
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