Apple has finally listened to its small, but slowly growing user base in India. The iPhone-maker today announced a range of features in iOS 13 that are designed to appease users in the world’s second largest smartphone market.
First up, the company says Siri now offers an all new and “more natural” Indian English male and female voices. The company has also introduced a bilingual keyboard, featuring support for Hindi and English languages. The keyboard also offers typing predictions in Devanagari Hindi that can suggest the next word as a user types and it learns from typing over time.
Additionally, the keyboard in iOS 13 supports 15 additional Indian languages, up from seven earlier. The new languages are Assamese, Bodo, Dogri, Kashmiri (Devanagari, Arabic), Konkani (Devanagari), Manipuri (Bangla, Meetei Mayek), Maithili, Nepali, Sanskrit, Santali (Devanagari, Ol Chiki), and Sindhi (Devanagari, Arabic).
The addition of these features comes as Apple grows more serious about India, a market where it has about 1% of the smartphone market share, according to research firm Counterpoint. Users in India have long complained about Apple services not being fully optimized for Indian local conditions. Siri, for instance, has so far offered limited functionalities in India. And many Apple services such as Apple Pay and Apple News are not available in the nation.
The upcoming version of iOS, which will ship to a range of iPhone handsets later this year, also includes four new system fonts in Indian languages — Gurmukhi, Kannada, Odia, and Gujarati. These will “help deliver greater clarity and ease when reading in apps like Safari, typing in Messages and Mail, or swiping through Contacts,” the company said.
Additionally, there are 30 new document fonts for Indian languages Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Sanskrit, Bengali, Assamese, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Gurmukhi, Malayalam, Odia, and Urdu.
Apple says iOS 13 will also enable improved video downloading option for patchy networks. It says users can now set an optimized time of the day in apps such as Hotstar and Netflix to download videos. Consumption of video apps is increasingly skyrocketing in India. Just last week, Alibaba said it was investing $100 million in its short video app called Vmate in the nation.
In recent months, Apple has also improved Apple Maps in India. Earlier this year, Apple Maps added support for turn-by-turn navigation, and began to allow users to book a cab — from Ola or Uber — directly from within the app.