Google Gives India Semi-Functional Gifts

    August 17, 2007

Earlier this week, Google promised India a birthday present (the country is celebrating its 60th year of independence).  Now two new gadgets have surfaced in Google India Labs, and while they may or not be the gift in question, they’re definitely worth a look.

The first gadget is called “Indic On-Screen Keyboard iGoogle Gadgets,” and it’s described as the “Official Google on-screen keyboard gadget for entering search queries in Hindi.”  Admittedly, if you’ve been able to keep up with my English, you probably don’t need this program, but that may be just as well; Google’s posted a 136-word list of “Known Issues.”

Some things don’t function in Firefox, and others don’t work in IE.  Safari’s apparently out of the question.  If this is India’s anniversary present, it’s almost as if Google said, “Happy birthday, India!  Your present’s in a few more pieces than it should be, but we’ll go at it with a hot glue gun in a few hours.”

The other offering, “Google Indic Transliteration,” appears to be much more solid.  Type a word in English, hit the space bar, and Google will spit it back in Hindi even as it allows you to continue typing.  I can’t comment on the accuracy of the transliterations, but they appear quickly and smoothly (and they always appear – I couldn’t stump the software).

It’s still hard to say if one or both of these gadgets is the gift Google promised – the Official Google Blog stated, “we’ll have news shortly,” and nothing has appeared – but their appearance is at least a happy coincidence.  Hat tip to Googlified’s Haochi Chen.