How to Install Arabic Keyboard on Android
Edit: Since the publication of this post it’s become one of the most popular on this blog (says a lot really as technology isn’t the main topic I talk about but anyway), since that time there have been changes to both Google and Samsung’s support for Arabic on their respective devices/firmware. Both Samsung and Android now offer native Arabic language support, so as long as you have the latest firmware and are either on Samsung’s skinned version of Android or Google’s base OS for Nexus you should be able to activate Arabic language in both the keyboard and the operating system’s language through the phone’s settings. I haven’t tested out Samsung’s Arabic keyboard so I can’t compare it to SwiftKey, but since the original publication of this post SwiftKey have added support for Urdu, so it’s just another reason for me to stick with it 😀
With the release of the Samsung Galaxy S3 I’ve switched from iPhone and iOS to Android. What I considered to be one of the best features of the iPhone was its international keyboard. Pretty much all major languages and their respective writing styles were catered for, and switching between them in a single text message or email was just a simple case of tapping a button.
Being a student of Arabic this proves very useful, especially given the Aratools dictionary app which at the time of writing is only available on Mac OS X and iOS. Now switching to Android I was extremely disappointed to find the same benefits of an international keyboard cannot be found, this is despite the fact that Apple and Google are always competing with one another and copying each others ideas.
There a number of ways an Arabic keyboard can be installed on Android, but the simplest solution I’ve found is by using SwiftKey. SwiftKey is very intuitive and great keyboard for Android. The only real benefit of the native keyboard I found was the swipe typing, whereby you don’t have to individually key in the letters but swipe them across the keypad, this which fun to play with at the beginning, but eventually got quite annoying, compared to iOS’s native keyboard it doesn’t really provide much competition, SwiftKey however is different.
The predictive text and spelling correction works almost every time, and it learns from your common usage. The best benefit however, as you may have guessed, is language support. Arabic can be installed at just a click of a button, and it also has predictive text in beta. The app costs £3 with the language packs being free, which is £3 more than what you would have to pay on an iPhone, but its interface and usability I would say is even better than the iPhone’s, and this is only after using it for literally a couple of days. There is a 30 day free trial version available if you want to give it a play, but I would certainly recommend it.
Now all I need to find is a decent Arabic dictionary, any suggestions please let me know.