Speaking two (or more) languages is cool. Typing in two or more character sets is decidedly less cool. Bilingual speakers who know, say, English and Spanish can have an easy enough time typing since they share a (mostly) common Latin alphabet. However, English/Hindi speakers may have a harder time bouncing between scripts because they use entirely different character sets. Enter Google.

In addition to providing a regular Hindi keyboard (below, right) which takes up multiple pages of letters, this app also offers a transliteration keyboard. For the layman, transliteration involves converting text from one character set to another, though not actually translating the words themselves. What this means is that bilingual speakers can type Hindi words using English characters and the words will appear in the Devanagari script. For example, type "namaste" and you'll see "नमस्ते."

hindi1 hindi2 hindi3

We spoke to a couple native Hindi speakers and they agree, the native transliteration is a huge benefit, as it's sometimes difficult to type in Hindi due to the large number of characters in the Devanagari script. These same people also noted some difficulty installing the app on TouchWiz phones. Your mileage may vary. Give it a go via the widget below.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Shrome Khanna

    As a Hindi speaker, I must say this is kind of awesome, but not very useful. Since most Indians have English as their first language in school, we find it easier to read and write/type English, though we speak Hindi, I'm certain others will agree.

    Swiftkey's Hinglish layout is the perfect solution to this, where you type Hindi words using English characters. The best part is that you can use both Hinglish and English simultaneously, with Flow and predictions on top.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      I'm confused. How does Swiftkey's implementation of typing Hindi words using English characters differ from Google's implementation of typing Hindi words using English characters?

      Serious question. I'm unaware of Swiftkey's solution.

      • White Pawn

        I believe they just type in Latin script, even though the words are in Hindi. Like 'namaste' would be the Hinglish version of नमस्ते.

      • Ashish Raj

        You are correct - it's the same thing.

      • gh0st

        Swiftkey's hinglish is not really a transliteration script, but it just suggests Hiindi word written using English characters. For example - Google transliterate will change namaste to नमस्ते, whereas in swiftkey it will still be namaste, it will just suggest those words, and can use them with the swipe input.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

          Fair enough, but I still imagine this is helpful when a bilingual speaker is communicating with someone who does not speak (or read) English. Both have their place.

    • Ashish Raj

      You are confused... this gives you the same functionality as that of Swiftkey's.. look at the below image.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1653571802 Debadatta Bose

    Meanwhile in India..... we have 540 languages......

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Holy crap.

      • mesmorino

        It's somewhat disingenuous though, I mean how many of those are culturally and nationally significant? Like, Nigeria has around 500 distinct languages too, but only three of those are taught in schools (in addition to English, naturally). Outside Nigeria those three are not likely to ever make it past novelty functions (like doing a google search in Yoruba).

        Having said that, I'm still trying to get Swiftkey to include Yoruba (which would motivate my mom to actually buy it)

        • White Pawn

          There are 28 or so officially distinct languages in India with pretty distinct scripts. The rest are classified as dialects of these languages, rather than unique languages by themselves.

          • Dhaval

            Correct. Others are dialects.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vikram-Dhani/673494386 Vikram Dhani

      National Language is Still Hindi hence they have added it

      • Abhigyan

        There is technically no national language in India. The concept does not exist. Only 28 official languages.

        • Madcap

          BS .. Hindi is the national language. You must be from South India who are brain washed to believe there is no national language.

          • Abhigyan

            Yes. Why don't you go ahead and play the 'South Indian' card and prove yourself ignorant all over again. According to the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_language#India

            "As neither the Constitution nor any Indian law defines any national language, India has no national language. This was affirmed by the Gujarat High Court in 2010.[8] Article 343 of the Constitution of India specifies that the Official language of India is Hindi in Devanagari script, with English as an additional language for official work."

            P.S. Also, contrary to your suggestion, I have spent 22 years of my life near Delhi. So I'd like you to consider expanding your myopic thought process and get your facts right before trolling about on the Internet.

          • Jaikumar Ranganathan

            ha ha ha...! Brain Washed!! who is brain washed?!.. Think you must be over shadowed by fanaticism and factionalism you have towards South India.. please know that Abhigyan is right. In India there is NO one national language it is 28 languages considered as national languages. People base on Hindi speaking is huge in that it doesn't mean that it is the National Language

    • http://www.facebook.com/MandeepMS Mandeep Singh

      Actually we have a lot more than people can count
      Some are still not know to the government but are used in very remote areas

    • r00t4rd3d

      Ive dealt with some Indian customer service call centers and I can confirm this.

  • Varun Bhatt

    It also looks much neater than the stock hindi keyboard in jellybean. And the arrangement of letters is alphabetical


    • White Pawn

      Actually, I am not sure how to switch to the new one. I was using the stock version before, and now I have installed this, but don't see the option to enable this. Do I need to disable the original one first?

      • NikhilPatil

        In Settings -> Languages and inputs , make sure the newly installed keyboard is checked. Uncheck all others if you want this as the default. Or you can keep all checked and use IME switcher while typing

  • Ashay

    Its great..... Love you google....

  • Ashish Raj

    & THIS IS WHY... I just looooooove Google & Android!! Awesome..

  • MAN

    Waiting for tamil keyboard like this

  • NikhilPatil

    People, stop whining! Its a great feature! In fact, it's something many of us like have been wanting since a long time! If you don't quite understand what it is and does exactly, please don't comment.

  • http://twitter.com/srmeena Sitaram Meena

    This has been available in Gmail for long time now. Nice to have it in android too!

  • Tanmay Jain

    Tried this out and must say its just amazing. BTW there are many languages in India that utilize the Devnagari script. I wonder how this will pan out for those languages.

    • NikhilPatil

      Works fine for Marathi! :)

    • primalxconvoy

      My Indian coworker just told me that, too.

  • mesmorino

    Alright wait for it... What about Arabic?

    • HellG

      nah, believe me it will be almost impossible to get it to work correctly, arabic words are really complicated, you can have 20 words that sound the same, almost written the same, and have letters that doesn't even exist in the english alphabet, there were programs like that for so long for windows, none were ever made right

    • iboalali

      actually in Arabic it not impossible not even hard, and google offers windows user (for all languages that Google supports) an application that integrates with the windows (that I have installed on my laptop) and a chrome extension, so you can write in latin letters, and it change it to Arabic, and it supports numbers that we Arabs love to use for letters. and it work great without problems and it learn from the user.
      and Microsoft has one too, just saying

  • Freak4Dell

    Very cool. This is nothing new for Google, but it's nice to see it come to Android. I remember trying it out when it came to GMail (albeit with a different language). My friend that I sent an email to (I'm only bilingual in speech, not reading/writing) said it was close, but not perfect. Even so, it's a really handy feature to have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikhilkaduskar Nikhil Kaduskar

    This is simply superb! Works like a charm, knows exactly how we use english alphabets to make hindi words, and on top of that has the new Rupee symbol!!! Although, there doesn't seem to be any typing correction as of now - but I'm sure it will come in the next iteration.

    Google, finally you've started focusing on the Indian market! Good for you... :)

  • primalxconvoy

    जंगले I think that's "jungle". Just typed it on my Galaxy Note 2. Unlike some keyboard apps, I had to go to keyboard setup in the settings area instead of clicking on an icon to install it.

    • HindiUser

      Lol... you typed jung-ley, not jungle.

      • krazyfrog

        That's the keyboard's fault. It converts the words phonetically, so typing jungle will result in जंगले, although you can opt for one of the other suggestions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Deepak-Kumar/100000566224312 Deepak Kumar

    People who are looking for Indian language keyboard should try sparsh from Google play. I use it to type in Tamil all the time and never had a problem. And itz not transliteration board like Google...

  • http://profiles.google.com/talhamid Talha Hamid

    Transliteration is maybe the most useful Google product ever and it has been available on pc for years, though they didn't see fit to give it any publicity. It covers languages from Hindi to urdu to Arabic to even obscure regional dialects. Looking forward to all of them making it to android and making it the indispensable tool for billions of non English speakers worldwide

  • http://www.facebook.com/pratyushp Pratyush Prasanna

    We have developed Plustxt India for exacly the same needs. Available in 7 Indian languages now including Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarati and Marathi

  • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

    Doesn't have the swype/flow thingy. I was hoping this will be an add-on to the stock Jelly Bean keyboard; since both are Google.

  • Sarang Pitale

    Thanks AP for sharing this info :)

  • mohan bahuguna

    Thanks to google, but the layout given by google is not so useful as we have to navigate in next penel for some other consonnt. Govt of India has accepted and approved the inscript keyboard layout for Hindi, which is being provided in windows computer by microsoft and in mobile devices by multiling keyboard and some other venders. So if google also provide an option for inscipt keyboard, kt will be,very useful to all Hindi users.

  • Aadhish Hotshot

    I wish play store came in India, as I got a huge trouble importing nexus 4...