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Friday, August 17, 2007

Google India Labs

Google released a special labs page for India. (Google Labs, as you might know, is the place where Google engineers post new projects, often still in experimental mode.)

The two Indian services available at this time are an Indic keyboard as iGoogle gadget to “compose search queries in any of [the several] Indian languages”, as well as an an Indic transliteration page. Enter any English word on the translation page and hit space to see it immediately be changed to Indic; the word “google" for instance turns to “गूगल”, the Devanagari characters used in Hindi. Once typed, you can click a word to edit it based on a number of suggestions offered, or by typing into a special on-screen keyboard.

I don’t know how good the quality of these new services is, but Google themselves have a longer write-up of known issues. The following is from the help page for the iGoogle gadget:

Oriya font rendering seems to be broken under IE. Firefox does not seem to support Oriya at all. Bengali (and Assamese) fonts are often too tiny and seem to be placed a few pixels lower than required. Many browsers do not render some of the Malayalam chillus and conjuncts correctly.


The Indic keyboard gadget


The instant Indic transliterations box


It took Google remarkably long to offer truly localized services outside the US, but they seem to be catching up this year. In China, Google released a special transliteration tool in April, Korea received a special homepage design in June, and Hong Kong and Taiwan have special iGoogle designs since last month. Also, Google China’s Lee Kai-Fu was reported to have said “Over the next year, Google will acquire one or two companies in China, and invest in four to five companies.” (I contacted Google to ask for verification of these reports.)

[Hat tip to Prashanth and Haochi!]


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