Posted on

Think you can succeed in India supporting English only? Think again.

#serveinmylanguage

It’s more than a hashtag; it’s a social movement. And it’s growing.

A movement among Indian consumers to force the vendors who depend on their business to actually support their native languages.

As this Times of India article notes: From ATMs to deposit slips, withdrawal challans and call centres, most public and private banks feel that service in Hindi and English should suffice their customer base –– Indians who converse in 22 major languages and 720 dialects.

This article is specific to the banking industry, but it’s safe to say that this is the beginning of something much bigger. Linguistically, India has been poorly served by websites.

As I noted in the 2018 Web Globalization Report Card, only 7% of the global websites studied support Hindi, followed by Urdu and Tamil. According to research conducted by Nielsen in 2017, 68% of Indian internet users consider local-language content to be more reliable than English. Facebook certainly understands this; Facebook supports more than half of India’s official languages. And it’s no surprise that Facebook now has more users in India than in the US.

Fortunately, some Indian banks are now becoming more multilingual. The Times of India article notes:

Private banks such as ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank are trying to be more multi-lingual in their digital banking strategy. “For instance, the Kotak Bharat app is aimed at financial inclusion. Users can transfer money, recharge their mobile, buy insurance, etc in Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil or Kannada. We plan to expand the app to handle other regional languages,” says Deepak Sharma, chief digital officer at Kotak Mahindra Bank.

And as you can see by this excerpt from my newly updated IDN poster, India represents a significant diversity of languages and scripts:

Languages are more than a means to an end; they are a sign of respect.

And companies that invest in languages are not only investing in their customers but investing in their own future.

Source

Posted on

So what if the icons are ugly, iOS 7 now supports Tamil

ciao

So I just spent an hour upgrading my iPhone to iOS 7.

My first thought was: Boy, these icons are ugly.

And there’s this strange mix of text-only buttons and visual buttons. Some of the apps feel like a step backwards, like Calendar. It all feels a bit rushed. Like the folks at top were so eager to launch something “new” that they didn’t give enough thought to why they were making some of the changes they made.

But this post isn’t about what I think about the design. I’m stuck with it, for now at least.

This post is about what global improvements Apple has made to iOS 7.

And there are a few positives to highlight.

Let’s start with the welcome screen when you see on first use. In iOS 6, only the swipe screen iterated between languages. In iOS 7, the languages are now front and center, which is  nice to see. This austere welcome page conveys the enthusiasm that Apple has for welcoming users from around the world. And I think it’s cool to highlight the supported languages, even if most users will only ever use one language.

iOS7 multilingual

As an aside, you don’t see any flags here do you? No flags at all in the operating system, which contrasts with the Apple website. It’s just a matter of time before Apple abandons flags on its website as well (or so I’ve long hoped!).

I also want to highlight the new keyboard input and dictionary support for Tamil.

tamil

Apple supports two types of Tamil inputs — Tamil99, which is the officially approved input keyboard, (shown above) and an Anjal keyboard, which provides a phonetic input.

Finally, here are a few additional improvements for China, which is now Apple’s second-largest market.

  • Tencent Weibo social network integration.
  • Chinese-English bilingual dictionary.
  • Improved Chinese input including T9 keyboard for pinyin; handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters.

Overall, there’s nothing truly groundbreaking here, just slow and steady improvements.