The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has reportedly extended the deadline for handset makers to provide support for Indian languages in their devices by four months. The deadline, which was initially set for October 1, is now pushed till February 1, 2018, a move which is expected to see more devices sold in the country supporting local languages. Also Read - Pegasus spyware affected many Indians: What is it, how to protect your phone from itAlso Read - Why smartphones must be classified as an essential product during COVID-19 lockdowns
Handset makers met ministry officials to highlight the road blocks for implementation and issue of inadequate testing facilities with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The fresh deadline is the second such extension after the previous deadline which was set for July. Also Read - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram could be blocked in India on this date: Here's the reason why
Pankaj Mohindroo, president of the Indian Cellular Association, said that there are issues such as the presence of extraneous characters in Indian languages, which is a constraint as it adds to the number of characters on a 12 input keypad. “The usage of these unknown characters could also create search and sort issues over internet,” he added. Welcoming the extension of the deadline, Mohindroo said, “I appreciate that MeitY acted timely on our request to consider the formulation of the new character set and extend the deadline.”
According to a report on ET Telecom, BIS has now started working on the new standard for mobile handsets, which is expected to be formulated by November 15, 2017. This will be followed by the industry-wide implementation. ALSO READ: Airtel adds regional language support to its *121# Digital Care service for prepaid customers
Meanwhile, the ministry has acknowledged the concerns of handset makers and said that it was revising the deadline to address those concerns and facilitate the industry for smooth implementation of the new order.
The government and the industry had started with the plan of enabling support for all local languages on feature phones as well as smartphones a year before. This included imprinting characters on keypads. However, given the number of local languages in India, the logistical issues related to implementing the rules on feature and smartphones including screen, keypad limitations, supply management in each state, the government eventually decided to enable English, Hindi, and at least one Indian language on a device. The BIS last year said that the devices should support message readability for all 22 official Indian languages.
Tech companies, including Google and Apple, have been focusing a lot on localized content and for that support for indigenous languages on a given device is crucial. The government’s agenda is to build a digitally sound nation, at the base of which lies the objective of facilitating communication in local languages. ALSO READ: Google Translate gets support for 7 Indian languages