As part of its efforts to personalise technology and make it accessible for everyone, Microsoft has 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 behaviour patterns and preferences of the user and accordingly offers individualised word suggestions in Indian languages, enhancing and improving accuracy of text input. Since these keyboards are based on natural pronunciation, users don’t need to separately learn to use them and simply start using them immediately.
The release of the updated phonetic keyboards is available in Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Odia, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages, which 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 customised Indic hardware keyboards or stickers. 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 new tools will not only help in making computing inclusive they are also expected to improve typing speed and accuracy in Indian languages by at least 20 per cent. Moreover, they make many regional symbols (like the Indian numerals) easier to input.
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).