Unicode in Mobile Telephones
Adil Allawi - Diwan Software Limited
Mobile phones and similar small devices present new problems for those who wish to implement support for complex language such as Arabic and Thai. This paper is based on the experience that Diwan has gained building complex text support for several projects including Siemens Mobile phones and the OpenWave mobile browser. I will discuss here the problems that may be faced when adding support for multilingual text and complex languages in a small device. I will also covers the issues related to presentation of text, options for handling text input, multilingual user interface and product design. Recommendations will be made on what should be considered when planning international support in a new product.
New technology has made it possible for a whole range of devices to have a more intelligent user interface. Where in the past you would find just buttons and switches you now get text displays and text input. Even the humble photocopier may soon send emails. This is in a way creating a new digital divide. Such devices are usually first built for Western markets. Customers requiring more complex languages have to either wait for their language to be implemented, get more inferior products or learn a new language.
Supporting complex languages is very possible in the whole spectrum of small devices. Unicode is a crucial part of this but alone it is not enough. I hope to be able to demonstrate that by taking a few points into account at an early stage it will be possible to easily add support for a wide range of languages. This opens up new markets for a product as well as closing a divide between different languages.
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