Microsoft on Monday announced the release of smart Phonetic keyboards for 10 Indian languages in its May 2019 update (19H1) for Windows 10. The updated virtual keyboard learns from the behavior patterns and preferences of the user and accordingly offers individualized word suggestions in Indian languages, enhancing and improving accuracy of text input.
The keyboards are based on transliteration, and not translation, which means since they are based on natural pronunciation, users don’t need to separately learn to use them and simply start using them immediately. For instance, if you type ‘Bharat’ in Latin characters, the Phonetic keyboard will transliterate final output to भारत (Hindi), ভারত (Bengali), ભારત (Gujarati) or ਭਾਰਤ (Punjabi) depending on the target language. This has made it simple for users to input transliterated Indic text using the existing keyboards which traditionally have Latin characters inscribed on them.
The release of the updated phonetic keyboards is available in Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Odia, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages. Microsoft says this is a significant step towards making computing language-agnostic and more inclusive in India.
The keyboards now allow Indian users to work in their native/preferred languages unlike before when many of them had to purchase customized Indic hardware keyboards or stickers. Prior to this update, Indic users were required to download Microsoft Indic Language Input Tool (ILIT) from the company’s Indic community website ‘Bhashaindia.com’ or a third-party tool. There are many other tools utilities from Microsoft (including Indic Input 1, Indic Input 2 and Indic Input 3) for Phonetic text input in Indian languages. The new update which now comes integrated into the operating system nullifies the need to download and install any external tools, known as Input Method Editors (IMEs).
Microsoft believes the new tools will not only help in making computing inclusive, but also improve typing speed and accuracy in Indian languages by at least 20%. Moreover, they make many regional symbols (like the Indian numerals) easier to input.
Since no separate installation is required, they can also be used in areas with low/no internet connectivity. Unlike the installed tools, constant upgradation will not be required anymore, but will be part of the Windows updates.
How to get the Phonetic Indic keyboards
While the updated keyboards have automatically been made available with the recent Windows 10 update (19H1), the users who have not updated their operating system may get the latest update by following simple steps: Go to Settings> Updates & Security> Windows Update. Once the update is installed, they can activate the Phonetic keyboards by going to Language settings.
New Phonetic keyboard layouts will work with any Unicode enabled applications and web browsers (including Edge) running over the Windows 10 operating system.Unicode is a common text encoding standard used for most languages of the world.