Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Typing Arabic vowels/diacritics on Android


If you would like to type Arabic vowels/diacritics/harakat on Android, you first need a keyboard that supports it. I've tried most of the keyboards available, and I've listed the ones that fit the bill. Most surprisingly, my keyboard of choice (Swype) doesn't support Arabic diacritics. Guess it's time to switch!

The first thing you'll need to do for all of these keyboards is install Arabic in the settings for each keyboard, which is normally accessible by going to Home --> Menu --> Settings --> Language and input. Once you've installed Arabic, you'll need to switch to Arabic language while using the keyboard.


Google Keyboard (pictured)

To type Arabic diacritics, long-press the period key near the lower-right.

Google Keyboard is free, lightweight, and probably the best out of the options I tried. In a move against Android fragmentation, Google is modularising Android by making a lot of new features available through the Play Store, meaning it matters a lot less what version of Android you're running. The Google Keyboard is one of the results of this modularisation.


SwiftKey

Long-press the apostrophe/single quote key near the lower right to access diacritics.

SwiftKey is a solid keyboard. It isn't free, but it's gone on sale periodically.


GO Keyboard

There's a button near the bottom left that has a doubled fatha symbol. Long-press it to access other diacritics.

This one's pretty good and it's free, although it does feel a little bloated and several of the options will prompt you to install additional GO-branded software.


SlideIT

Tap the button that brings up numbers and symbols. From there you should see a "1/6" button. You'll need to tap that five times until it says "6/6", and from there you'll see the diacritics.

This was probably my least favorite. The interface felt cluttered, and having to go through six keypresses just to get to the diacritics was annoying. In addition, some of the time the 1/6 button said 1/3 instead, meaning I couldn't get to the diacritic page. It seemed that happened mostly when switching between other keyboards.

2 comments:

  1. Updated version of Swype support that.... Long press "."

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    1. That's great, thanks for sharing. I've since switched to the Google Keyboard but even today it seems their swiping input method isn't as good as Swype so I may check out Swype again.

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