Microsoft integrates smart phonetic Indic keyboards for 10 Indian languages in Windows 10

Abhishek Baxi

Hindi Keyboard in Windows 10

Microsoft has released smart phonetic keyboards for 10 Indian languages in its May 2019 update (19H1) for Windows 10.

The release of the updated phonetic keyboards is available in Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Odia, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam. 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 allow Indian users to work in their native or preferred languages unlike before when many of them had to purchase customized Indic hardware keyboards or stickers or download the Microsoft Indic Language Input Tool (ILIT) or other third-party tools. The new update comes integrated into the operating system and nullifies the need to download and install any external tools, known as Input Method Editors (IMEs), making them more discoverable for laypersons.

Since these keyboards are based on natural pronunciation, there’s no learning curve and one can simply start using them immediately.

It makes it simple for users to input transliterated Indic text using the existing keyboards which traditionally have Latin characters inscribed on them. Transliteration, unlike translation, automatically converts text from one script to another. For instance, if we type ‘Bharat’ in Latin characters, the Phonetic keyboard will transliterate final output to भारत (Hindi) depending on the target language.

These keyboards layouts will work with any Unicode-enabled applications and web browsers running on Windows 10. The new keyboards make computing language-agnostic and more inclusive while improving typing speed and accuracy in Indian languages by at least 20%. Moreover, they make many regional symbols, like the Indian numerals, easier to input.

The new keyboards are in addition to the Indic Inscript keyboard – Indic is the official Indian keyboard standard for Indian languages – already available with Windows.