2016 was expected to be the year when smartphones would overtake the sale of feature phones, but the market beat the expectations of the analysts, and towards the end of the year it emerged that feature phones were in fact shipped more this year. One of the problems with adoption of smartphones is a low perceived value as there are few services and applications available in local Indian regional languages. Indus OS addresses this problem by making available access to smartphone technology products in several Indian languages.
The efforts seem to be working. The company claims that as data gets cheaper with aggressive pricing offered by companies, the traffic by Indus OS users is expected to grow five fold by the end of the year. The usage is expected to be in the range of one gigabyte per month per user. After Android, Indus OS is the most used smartphone operating system in the country. There are more Indus OS users than iOS or Windows Mobile users. The company hopes to be on one in every six smartphones by 2017.
Indus OS is available in 12 languages. These are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil and Urdu. Each language is customised to a different level in the OS. The app names are at times in English, or partially in English. The localisation is not uniformly implemented across languages, so even though an app name may be written in one local language, the same app may appear in English for another local language. Some elements in the OS are mirrored for the Urdu implementation.
The patented regional keyboard is the star application in Indus OS. The keyboard allows users to type in regional languages using English letters. Any time a letter is entered in an Indian language, two suggestion bars pop-up on top. The bottom one is a list of commonly used matras, and the top bar has a list of predicted words. These inputs together speed up what would otherwise have been a cumbersome process. It is also possible to enter phrases in English and quickly swipe to translate them into the selected regional language. Users have to swipe right to translate, and swipe left to transliterate.
Indus messaging is a hybrid instant messaging client that sends and receives SMS and MMS. However, communication between two Indus OS users is free, as the client then sends the messages over the internet. There is an audio icon next to messages that uses text to speech to read out the messages. The text to speech functionality is available in nine of the twelve languages in Indus OS.
Text to speech is a great way to consume web content. Users just have to navigate to a web page, and select a block of text and copy it. Two button icons appear over the selected text, and users have to tap either the regional language or the English language button to read out the content. The feature allows users who have known only English to consume regional language content and newspapers. While not entirely accurate, the text to speech is functional enough. Access to internet is required for the text to speech functionality to work.
Smartphone users even in English may struggle to make sense of all the complicated features. There is a requirement for a certain amount of exposure and familiarity to smartphone operating systems for first time users. Indus OS bridges this gap by simplifying almost everything in the smartphone. The settings, homescreen, user interface, dialer and contacts have all been stripped down to their most essential elements towards this end.
Indus OS has its own app store, called App Bazaar. Publishers have to list apps separately on this app market, and there is a preference for applications with local and regional content. A wide range of apps are available with apps from Disney, Zapak and Microsoft. Users can search for apps in the app store in their regional languages. The App Store supports carrier billing, so there is no need to use a credit card. Indus OS helps developers translate their apps into regional languages offered on the phone.
There is a help section called Indus Help to walk new users through the capabilities of the phone. The key features of the OS, home screen, Dialer, Indus Messaging, App Bazaar, Copy to Listen and Settings are explained in a step by step walk-through in this section. Users are encouraged to try out all the features once, before using the OS.
The localisation does not extend to all aspects of the operating system. Even though the messaging app shows the numeric keypad in local languages, the default calculator app does not. The screenshots are named numerically in the selected regional language. The camera settings are in English, no matter which language is selected.
The Calendar app is a mixed bag, with the days, titles in regional languages, but the dates in English. This is where Indus OS has room for improvement. The partial localisation can be changed to complete localisation, at least for the default applications.
Indus OS tracks user actions on some of its integrated services to provide a better experience. The Indus keyboard, App Bazaar, Indus Messaging, Text to Speech, Swiping features for languages all have analytics integrated. There is a prompt to accept the terms and conditions when any of these apps are accessed for the first time. There is no way to opt out of the analytics and still use the device.
Indus OS is installed at the factory level into the device, and is not available for installation in any Android smartphone. Select Micromax, Celkon and and Swipe devices are available with Indus OS. We used Indus OS on the Micromax Canvas Unite 4. It is currently available on over thirty five devices.
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Source: tech.firstpost.com -Gadgets
Indus OS is a good way to consume smartphone content in regional languages