Google Input Tools: A gift to the multilingual majority
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Google Input Tools: A gift to the multilingual majority

Do you write in two languages, or even three? If so, then you know how frustrating it can be to switch computer or smartphone keyboard languages, especially if the alphabets are as different as Polish is from Korean. And just try to get your cursor to move the right way in Arabic (that’s right to left, not left to right). Then, try changing it back in the same document.

OK, after you go fetch your keyboard or smartphone from where you threw it, I’ll tell you about something really cool from Google.

The search-engine giant has recently released a new free virtual keyboard in Google Input Tools that allows users to type online in more than 80 languages. And it’s much easier and faster than switching keyboard languages on your computer or smartphone.

When you download it, you can select the languages you use most often. Then, you can toggle among them. When you switch, a small keyboard guide appears on your screen, and when you type on your regular keyboard, like magic, the right characters and accents come up. So you can now easily type “Liebe Grüße” and “Comment êtes-vous?” or even “お元気ですか?” all in the same email.

Currently, the keyboard tool is available for the Google Chrome browser, Android devices, and Windows, but more platforms should be coming soon.

To launch this tool, Google released a wonderful video featuring “untranslatable” words. The idea is that some things are just better said in their original language. Take a look.

This is a great gift for all those bilingual and multilingual people out there. And Google knows what it’s doing. By most accounts, multilingual people outnumber the monolingual worldwide.

And the response to Google’s web announcement of the tool has been enormously positive. Perhaps the only negative comments came from a few people wanting it for their language too. Having 80+ languages is impressive, but at the last count, the world speaks roughly 7,000.

So get busy Google. That’s a lot of presents to wrap.