Categories: Gadgets & Apps

Bhala, an Android keyboard designed for African languages

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There are many occasions when I type on my mobile device in my local language and grow frustrated with the experience. Sometimes the keyboard app doesn’t have, in my case, a Shona option. Or if it does the predictive text is so poor I sometimes have to autocorrect, well… autocorrect. Enter Bhala, a keyboard that is looking to solve this problem.

Bhala is a keyboard that was designed more for African languages. As I alluded to earlier, some of the apps we have in app stores weren’t designed with us in mind. Bhala on the other hand, according to its creators, uses deep learning models in order to improve the experience of writing in African languages. So far Bhala has, Shona, Ndebele, Swati, Xhosa, Zulu and Swahili. The app is available on Google‘s Play Store and I have been giving it a go for the last day or so as my primary keyboard.

One thing I’ll have to admit to all of you is that my Shona has deteriorated somewhat, not speaking but in writing. I have on a number of occasions triple checked what I wanted to say before sending a message. This hasn’t been helped with the predictive text on the G Board.

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Is Bhala better than GBoard for Shona?

Definitely, I have had fewer fights with Bhala than I have with Google’s Keyboard. The predictive text gives more “ballpark” options than I am used to with the G Board.

If you are in the market for a keyboard more geared for African languages then I suggest you give this one a try. The link to the app on the Play Store is below:

Bhala Keyboard Google Play Store

Since I only speak Shona and English, I’d be curious to know how Bhala performs for Ndebele and the other languages listed earlier.


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  • It would have been nice to give an analysis of the app on all languages it offers not just shona. Zimbabwe is not only populated with shona speaking people.

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  • I have been using bha.la since its launch and I have had quite a pleasurable experience. My keyboard has now learnt my foibles and is becoming quite fluid in my use of several languages. I am a Zimbabwean from the Midlands who has lived in several countries, as such I text people in Zulu, Ndebele, Shona and SiSwati and I am yet to experience any significant errors.

    Granted, it is taking me a bit longer having to switch from one input language to the next, but overall the experience is smoother.

    My default language is set to Ndebele and even then, I am texting in English (on the Ndebele keyboard) with minimal difficulty.

    Can't wait to see what the updates bring

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Published by
Valentine Muhamba
Tags: Bhala

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