Saturday, April 3, 2010

iPad Language Capabilities Update

The iPad became available today. As noted in an earlier article, the language capabilities (listed in the tech specs) are rather less than those on the iPhone/iPod Touch. In particular there is no input for Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, Korean, Traditional Chinese, and also various European languages (see list here.)

iPad Safari and Pages can display all of the missing scripts without problem, however. As in the iPhone/iPod, support for Indic scripts, such as Devanagari, Tamil, and Tibetan is still not available. There is no ability to add additional fonts. A list of included fonts can be found here.

International Keyboards are discussed on pages 19-20 of the iPad User Guide. This states that "some languages written from right to left" are supported, which is clearly wrong at this point.

Japanese Input includes qwerty, azerty, and qwertz Keyboard Layouts, but no direct Kana input. Chinese, in addition to handwriting, provides qwerty and azerty.

There is a dual set of keyboard layouts in Settings, one for the virtual keyboard and one for hardware keyboards. For example, under English Hardware, you can choose US Extended, US International PC, and Dvorak, among others. A full list of layouts is here.

To use a JIS (Japanese) hardware keyboard, set the iPad OS to Japanese before trying to pair it.

As of 7/28/2010, the iPad app store lists keyboards for Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Korean, Dvorak, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish, Czech, Ukrainian, and Macedonian.

Apps that let you input all unicode characters include Unicode Maps, Unicode, and Unicode Table.

Apple says iBooks can display books written in English, French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish. The built-in dictionary is only available in the English language. I have reports that iBooks can also display other languages, but that the page order is wrong in RTL scripts.

VoiceOver speaks 13 languages and works with all of the applications built into iPad. The list of languages is that found on this page.

Pages 1.0 is only available in English. A 5/13 update adds French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish. Pages cannot display advanced typography in the Hoefler Text font.

28 comments:

Paul D. said...

I'd like to know if iBooks can display furigana (ruby text) in Japanese. This is an essential feature if they intend to sell the app in the Japanese market.

Tom Gewecke said...

Paul -- If you will send me, or provide a link to a free copy, of an ePub format doc with furigana, I will test it. (tom at bluesky dot org)

Paul D. said...

Tom, if I can find one I'll send it to you.

BTW, here's a guide by the Japanese Electronic Publishing Association on minimum Japanese ePub requirements (in English): http://www.jepa.or.jp/press_release/reqEPUBJ.html

It covers nearly everything, including vertical text layout and furigana. Now, I know most of these crucial features aren't part of the standard OS X text engine, but I do have a few Japanese iPod apps with vertical text. (None with working furigana, though.)

Anonymous said...

I've just taken a very brief look at my colleague's iPad and it does have fonts for Thai, Devanagari, Tamil, Malayalam, Arabic (and I believe it has (a) Hebrew font(s) as well. I didn't check explicitly because I took it for granted). Complex script shaping was broken in some cases, though.

In case of input support, indeed they support a lot fewer languages than iPhone( several European languages written in Latin + Simplified/Traditional Chinese + Japanese). I wonder what's the point of not including input supports for many other languages supported on iPhone?

Tom Gewecke said...

Yes, the iPad has fonts and can do correct display of everything the iPhone can display, including Arabic and Hebrew and Thai. It fails to display correctly the same things as the iPhone, namely Indic scripts.

I think the failure to port over the 2 dozen or so additional keyboards from the iPhone was most likely just lack of time and resources, so they will be added in future updates.

photon08 said...

Do they need to be 'ported'? I thought iPad runs iPhone OS. Well, it might need some 'tweaking' (different form factor, etc), but I don't expect those tweaking to be language/kbd/ime-dependent (at least not very much).

Koreans (who are in love of iPhone these days) must have been very much disappointed to find that Korean input is not supported on iPad ;-). JFYI, iPhone has been shaking up the 'Internet in Korea' (that famous Galapagos island of the Intenet : http://dotsub.com/view/e0a73f7d-685c-489f-9b07-98e59a6aa130 : it's in English) since it's release last October in Korea.

James said...

I tested an iPad with Lao unicode font on www.rfa.org/lao and it displayed the characters correctly and beautifully. You can zoom in on the text to make reading easier and it still looks quite clear.

As far as I know, it is not possible to type Lao on an iPad using the included keyboard layouts. Can any of the iPod/iPHone Unicode input apps type Lao? How convenient are they to use?

Tom Gewecke said...

Thanks for the info, James.

Yes, the Unicode input apps can type Lao, but usually it is very inconvenient, since you have to copy/paste each character separately.

Tim said...

I've only tested this in the iPad simulator, but Tibetan text displayed correctly if an app includes compatible fonts (iPhone OS 3.2+ now allows apps to easily include fonts).

It worked with fonts that worked in Leopard (10.5) i.e. Kokonor, Kailasa and the Xenotype fonts. Jomalhari doesn't work.

OS 3.2 also lets an app specify a custom keyboard view for text entry, which would enable a tibetan keyboard to be developed.

Tom Gewecke said...

Tim -- Wow, that is most interesting! I wonder if that would also work with fonts like Devanagari MT, and if the app were a browser. That would really expand the capabilities.

Anonymous said...

Hi Friends!

Nice to read this forum. Recently I bought an IPad,. Saari is there for internet browsing, but it can't disply the Devnagari script (Indic script) properly. So I cant read many web pages written in Devnagari, especially the news site. Does anyone have any idea how to view the Devnagari script properly in IPad? Please help. Or is there another internet browser that can be installed in IPad that supports Devnagari in Ipad?

Tom Gewecke said...

Anonymous -- See this article:

http://m10lmac.blogspot.com/2010/05/viewing-hindi-tamil-bengali-websites.html

George G said...

checked the iPad today, and tried the US-International (PC) and the US-Extended layouts. First the US-International is not laid out as in PC. There is eth and thorn missing (essential to write those two Icelandic letters). The US-Extended also is missing eth and thorn. It also missing other diacriticals. Using any of these keyboards would only display the possible diacriticals after keeping the finger pressed on the particular letter in the virtual iPads keyboard. I would have thought they would have the alt key in the virtual keyboard. I do not understand the point of having the get a hardware keyboard to use with the iPad; I thought the whole point of the iPad is to be a tablet, period!

So I have another excuse not to be an earlier adopter of this revolutionary product.

Tom Gewecke said...

George -- The settings for US International and US Extended apply only to hardware keyboards, nothing to do with the virtual keyboard. The choices for English virtual are qwerty, azerty, qwertz.

http://homepage.mac.com/thgewecke/ipadkbs.html

The tech specs for the iPad, issued Jan. 27, show no support for Icelandic yet, so I am not surprised you can't find that in virtual keyboard mode.

The best place to report things you don't like is

http://www.apple.com/feedback/ipad.html

Mimi said...

Hi Tom, your blog showed up in my google search for Greek keyboard for the iPad. Just got my iPad today and am so disappointed it has no support for Greek keyboard. All my searches so far for an alternative solution have been disappointing :( hopefully apple will do something about it soon like it did for the iPhone.
Great blog btw

Tom Gewecke said...

Mimi -- Did you try the Greek keyboard apps in the app store? Are they not useful for anything?

joshyv said...

i could not find a useful app in the store that enabled me to read pdf's with greek letters. goodreader, iAnnotate, Stanza, iBooks, and the built-in preview using safari also failed to render greek characters. i'd very much like to read them, as i mostly read statistics articles, which include lots of greek letters.

Tom Gewecke said...

joshyv -- that seems odd. Can you read these ok in the full os x? Could you provide the url for one or send me a copy (tom at bluesky dot org)?

Michelle said...

I'm trying to read iBooks in Chinese, how is that possible? I can't seem to find a way.

Tom Gewecke said...

Michelle -- email me (tom at bluesky dot org) with the details and I will try to help. Can you not find a chinese book? You found one but cannot read it? Did you try both iBooks and Kindle.app?

Anonymous said...

My iPad won't read Yale Library's Unicode French. I downloaded a free Set Character Encoding app from the App Store which gets the job done but puts in accents aigus which should be graves -- pièce comes out as piéce.

Tom Gewecke said...

anonymous -- could you provide the url of what exactly you are trying to read and indicate what app you are using, so I can check it for myself? email details to me: tom at bluesky dot org

Anonymous said...

I still do not understand why iPhones and iPod support Chinese traditional, but not iPad. This makes it so inconvenient for hong kong and Taiwan users. I really need .

Tom Gewecke said...

Nobody can tell you why some feature is missing from the iPad. Please keep up with the available info:

http://m10lmac.blogspot.com/2010/09/ipad-keyboards-in-ios-42.html

George Glikofridis said...

The iOS (even the 4.2) has an inconvenience (let's say paradox) for the Greek Keyboard. The dead key sequence for the accented letters is wrong. And furthermore, I can not understand how this is possible when in the OSX is right!
The right sequence is "accent - character" not "character - accent". (If someone is speed typing, this is more than awful.) You can find the right sequence everywhere. Windows, MacOSX, Linux, ecc. Except iPhone and iPad. Why is that?
But anyway, can I do some arrangements at the system level alone?

Thanks in advance.

Tom Gewecke said...

George -- Surely you know that the user has no access to the system to change anything at all in iOS devices.

I suspect that the iOS virtual keyboard layout software system does not have deadkey capability yet.

You can presumably use a hardware keyboard in the normal way, however

speakers for ipad said...

I hope the built-in dictionary is not only available in the English language.

Tom Gewecke said...

speakers -- just as in the full OS X, the Dictionary is only provided in English and Japanese.

The info in this article is long out of date, so you might want to check later blog entries.