Apps bridging the language divide
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In a country as diverse as India, language can sometimes be a barrier to communication. On a smartphone too, you could at the most send and receive messages in English or Hindi. Now, apps are solving this problem by adding support for regional languages, either enabling on-the-fly conversion from English or Hindi to another language, or allowing messages in Indian languages.
Xploree Smart Keyboard
The Xploree keyboard app uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make word predictions in regional languages. Developed by Scotland-based KeyPoint Technologies, it won’t change the keyboard’s default language. What it adds instead is the option to translate any non-English word typed in English into the original language. The user can then replace the English word by tapping on the suggestion. This keyboard works with all messaging apps installed on the phone, and supports 29 languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Odia, Tamil, Assamese, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Marathi, Nepali, Bhojpuri and Punjabi.
Google Indic keyboard
The Google Indic keyboard automatically replaces your English language keyboard with keys in 12 Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam and Punjabi. This is ideal for users who prefer to send messages to friends and family in their own language. For people who can read their mother tongue but are not good at writing in it, the app offers the option of transliterating letters into the desired language as the user is typing. Changing language is easy—the keyboard offers a dedicated button for it.
The Facebook app has a unique feature that many don’t know about. It allows the user to write a post in Hindi or comment in Hindi without switching to an Indian language keyboard app first. The feature works by showing suggestions in Hindi for non-English words typed in English. It can be accessed by tapping on the Hindi keyboard icon that shows in the chat window. For the icon to show, the user needs to enable the feature in Menu->App settings->Hindi keyboard. As of now, this feature works only in Hindi.
Google Translate can translate any spoken or typed word on the app’s interface in up to 12 languages—Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Punjabi, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Sindhi, Telugu, Nepali and Gujarati. The option to translate the spoken word can be very useful, whether it’s for conversing or for deciphering something written in a different language. Users can integrate the app with other Google apps too. When integrated with the messages app, for instance, Translate can access and open your text messages directly from within the Translate app and translate it into the language you want. Similarly, to make sure a user fully understands what a translation implies, it also shows what the word means as a noun, adjective or verb in the translated language.
Hello English can help users learn English through free lessons by using their mother tongue as the language of reference. Developed by Jaipur-based start-up CultureAlley, Hello English works with 10 Indian languages, including Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Urdu, Malayalam and Kannada. The app provides instant corrections and suggestions for every answer. It also offers the option of consulting a tutor through the in-built chat window in case there are specific queries .