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Developing vernacular apps for the masses

Developing vernacular apps for the masses
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First Published: Mon, May 16 2011. 01 15 AM IST
Updated: Mon, May 16 2011. 02 55 PM IST
New Delhi: Language is a critical barrier to digital inclusion in a country like India, where millions do not speak English, the global language of mobile apps. It also makes the country a perfect market for applications that are accessible in vernacular languages, something mPustak, a bouquet of learning-based applications, hopes to exploit.
“MPustak is a mobile technology initiative to tackle technical challenges and get vernacular language applications rapidly to mobile and tablet devices,” said Manish Malik, founder and chief executive of Hazel Media Pvt. Ltd, which has developed mPustak.
Also listen to Manish Malik, founder and CEO of Hazel Media Private Limited talks about developing vernacular apps and its challenges (Download here)
Users can practise mathematics, learn about animals and places, etc., in various Indian languages using mPustak on mobile and tablet devices, including low-cost handsets.
It can be downloaded for free from http://mpustak.com/get. Since its launch in February, mPustak has been downloaded about 160,000 times, according to Hazel Media.
Once downloaded, learning apps of the bouquet, such as mPustak Multiply, mPustak Add, mPustak Subtract, and so on can be used without an Internet connection.
MPustak is currently available in Hindi, English and Marathi. By June, Bengali, Telugu and Tamil versions will be rolled out. The company initially created content on its own, but is now scouting for vernacular content partners.
The comprehension level of the education apps is assessed on a regular basis, said Malik. “For other verticals, we focus on the content that can be comprehended easily in a colloquial context.”
Malik said the dearth of vernacular mobile and tablet apps has been caused by the technical challenges. Problems such as multiplicity of device platforms, different ways of handling vernacular languages and the presence of a large number of devices in the market that do not support vernacular language fonts make it difficult to develop mobile apps for the masses.
“We identified this as a root problem that hinders development and growth of Indian content applications, and more so, not just Indian, but vernacular languages globally. We set about to solve this problem and make it easy to rapidly create such applications,” he said.
The product is meant for two segments. Developers would integrate the technological framework of mPustak and work with the firm to create similar mobile and tablet apps. But the end product, mPustak, is meant to be used by anyone.
“I would compare it to providing raw material versus providing the finished product,” Malik said. “The core technology is such that it can be easily worked with in both the scenarios.”
geetika.r@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, May 16 2011. 01 15 AM IST