Smartphone companies including Samsung, Apple, Micromax and others get 4-month extension

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NEW DELHI: Handset makers got a four-month extension to provide Indian language support in devices after they met officials of the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and highlighted the hurdles they are facing to comply with the requirement.

The ministry has extended the deadline to February 1, 2018, from October 1. The extension, granted on Friday, is the second that the industry has got – the initial deadline was July this year.

“There have been issues like the presence of extraneous characters (in Indian languages), which is a constraint as it added to the number of characters on a 12-input keypad.

Further, usage of unknown characters could also create search and sort issues over Internet,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, president of Indian Cellular Association that represents most handset makers operating in India, including Samsung, Apple and Micromax.

“I appreciate that MeitY acted timely on our request to consider the formulation of the new character set and extend the deadline,” he added.

One of the issues that the companies had taken up with ministry officials during their meeting a couple  of weeks ago was the lack of adequate testing facilities with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The bureau is working on the formulation of new standards for mobile handsets, people aware of the matter said. These are expected to be ready by November 15 and the industry will get two-and-half months to implement a solution, they said.

In a notice announcing the deadline extension, the ministry said handset makers “raised concerns regarding the compliance” of the previous order and said it was revising the deadline “to address the issues and facilitate the industry for smooth implementation of the order”.

The government and industry last year started with a plan to enable all local languages -including imprinting characters on keypads -on feature-phones and smartphones. But, after the industry raised logistical issues, specifically around screen and keypad limitations in feature-phones and supply management in states, the government decided to change the criteria and told the manufactures to enable English, Hindi and at least one Indian language on a device.

BIS in June last year said the devices should enable message readability for all 22 official Indian languages.

The government’s larger objective is to enable widespread communication in local languages, especially for people who may not use English or Hindi with as much ease. Technology giants like Google and Apple that want to get the next billion people onto the Internet, or their own ecosystems, are now enabling local language support for search and inputting.

Source:- Times Of India

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