Android ICS support for Tamil and Indic languages

The latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich release was keenly awaited by Indic languages as the earlier versions did not provide native support. I upgraded the OS in my Google Nexus S and found that Tamil is supported well in some native apps. Earlier we could only rely on some external android apps or hacks to view Tamil.

You can view the screenshots below with captions to understand the issues.

Here is a summary of the issues I observed:

1. Tamil is shown well in Android’s native browser and Facebook app. However, the letters are seen scrambled in many other apps like Twitter, Music and SMS.

Inference: Android provides native support for Tamil but the apps also have to code well to show it. Is it possible to do a single app that will fix this problem in all other apps present?

2. Tamil, Bengali, Marathi and Hindi are the only Indian languages supported for now. Oh ya, it can also show English well without a problem 😉

But, how did they choose these four languages? Possible guesses:

* Languages by number of speakers (But Telugu has more speakers than Tamil) ?

* Possibility of revenue generation in these languages (Ad revenue in all Indic languages are almost nill or equal) ?

* Based on the activity online? (I would guess that it is based on the volume of content, search queries, people using Google interfaces in their language).

* Developers passionate in their own language? (very much possible)

* National language status? ( Hindi, Tamil, Bengali are national languages in different countries. But choice of Marathi can’t be explained)

Android-Tamil-Indic-languages-support showing Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, Hindi and English in Android ICS browser

Android ICS Pro Tip: You can take screen shots like this by pressing the volume+power button together. The screen shots will be stored in your gallery. Then, you can share them easily across the web.

Tamil in Android mobile phones

Android OS for mobile phones is yet to have inbuilt support for Tamil Unicode fonts.

However there are some free apps that support to read and write Tamil Unicode font in Android apps and browsers:

* Tamil Visai – To type Tamil in any Android app using transliteration, Tamil99 keyboard. Using this you can publish in Unicode Tamil font in websites. You can also send Tamil SMSes to other phones supporting Tamil display.

* SETT browser – To display Tamil Unicode text properly.

* Opera Mini browser can display Tamil Websites as bitmap images. Select YES for “Use BitMap fonts for complex scripts” in the settings.

But still, there is no inbuilt support yet. So, you cannot see Unicode Tamil text in all applications. You can’t read Tamil SMSes and there is no Tamil interface yet. Since Android is a open source software and Indic market can’t be ignored for long, we can hope to see inbuilt Tamil support soon in Android.

If you are power user, you can root your android phone and install Tamil Unicode font provided by Krishnan.

If you are an application developer, you can use TSCII fonts to display Tamil letters in your app.

The latest news is that Samsung Ace mobile phone gives native support for Tamil in Android OS. ( Tip: @mayooresan )

Native Tamil support in Android OS in Samsung Ace mobile phone
Native Tamil support in Android OS in Samsung Ace mobile phone

See also:

* How to guide for typing Tamil in Nokia cell phones

Related posts:

* Tamil font converters
* Tamil typing software
* Download free Tamil fonts

Tamil Grammar lessons online

List of websites to learn Tamil Grammar:

1. Tamil Virtual University grammar courses

2. Books on Tamil grammar listed at

3. Tamil Wikipedia grammar guide – Has relevant links, guides for understanding essential Tamil grammar.

4. – A team blog in Tamil answering common questions / doubts on Tamil grammar.

5. அடிப்படைத் தமிழ் இலக்கணம், பொற்காலத் தமிழ் இலக்கணம் – Free e-books for download from

6. மரத்தடி.com articles on Tamil grammar – Caters to advanced level students of Tamil grammar.

7. Tamil grammar through English – A simple beginner level presentation in English to understand basic Tamil grammar.

8. and teach you about சந்தி இலக்கணம். i.e, when to add க், ச், த், ப் in between two words when you write them together. Guess this is the number one confusion for any tamil writer 🙂

Related posts:

* Tamil literature magazines websites

* Tamil writers websites

* Tamil ebooks download websites

* Buy Tamil books online

* Tamilnadu school textbooks online

* English to Tamil dictionary websites

English words in spoken Tamil

குறிப்பு: உங்கள் spoken englishஐ மேம்படுத்த விரும்பி இங்கு வந்திருந்தால் ஆங்கிலம் பேசப் பழகுவது எப்படி? பாருங்கள்.


Everyone knows the Tamil equivalents for simple words like first, second, front etc., but we simply forget / ignore to say it in Tamil. This is an alarming trend which makes the next generation Tamil kids to think that these are Tamil words. And, they may end up forgetting / never knowing the meaning of முதல், இரண்டாவது, முன் etc., While there is a dedicated group of volunteers to translate even the latest technical terms in Tamil, it would be of no use if we don’t even care to speak the simple words in Tamil first.

I am trying to make a list of English words in spoken Tamil which could even be understood by an illiterate Tamil living in rural Tamilnadu. I am recollecting only those words which even my grandma in the village can understand. This would make us aware how adulterated the spoken Tamil is and help us avoid them wherever possible. At least, this would help a foreigner to make his stay in Tamilnadu easy 🙁

bus stop stand auto car first second calendar stove gas light bulb tv radio watch cylinder chain battery charger phone card police office train plane center gate match super cinema theater round doctor nurse teacher school note book leave medical tea coffee reserve advance bill current motor fuse line apple beet-root carrot beans petrol diesel lorry engine news cricket release jail election court station counselor engineer passport visa travels hotel parcel tailor glass tumbler plate paper pen pencil tourist balloon jeep tyre tube cycle chicken mutton antenna wire cable mobile cell taxi driver conductor minister military villain cut chair table bench charge van ticket English computer xerox meter liter silver shirt trouser button headmaster master peon collector officer road sorry thanks ambulance operation hospital control start money-purse
bank application college loan license test urine sugar dress pocket packet switch complaint case market late guest sir madam photo camera grinder mixer nighty banian factory mill rice account toilet bathroom kitchen call church tuition coaching ball decent traffic signal junction certificate seat board piece chalk scale box biscuit bottle belt puncture spoon bread studio ice cream orange token lottery prize

Let me know if there are more such words.

I tried compiling one such list for urban Tamils but it looked that i might end up writing a dictionary size list 🙁

When i watched the workers, elders in our village farm there wasn’t even a single English word in their speech. From cattle anatomy to crop physiology, they could express everything related to their life in 100% Tamil. Can we at least document 50% of our life in Tamil? They were illiterate, unexposed to urban cultures, satellite televisions and yet they are the store house of ancient Tamil words which are used rarely in towns. With the arrival of satellite televisions in rural India, it is of great concern that their influence on viewers can make the native dialects lose their purity. There is a definite need to document all the words in these dialects which are a rich source for language research.