Typing N’ko on Android

Alright so all of our posts are a bit specialized but this one is going to be particularly focused. But hey, what’s language in social life without being able to actually send messages in your preferred language and script?

There have recently been some advancements in being able to actually read/write (render/type) N’ko on mobile devices and I want to cover how one could actually use these systems since I myself had to do a bit of exploring. In short, there are two new options for typing Manding in N’ko on Android devices: 1) using a stand-alone app, N’ko Pad 2) using a newly developed N’ko extension for the Multiling O Keyboard. In short, the N’ko Pad is simpler single app solution but the Multiling keyboard extension allows for near natural utilization of N’ko as if was part of Android’s system and cross-platform compatibility. Browse through either one or skip to the one that you want to use to be able to read/write N’ko on Android:

N’ko Pad

  • The N’ko Pad is a stand-alone app — that is, it is NOT an integrated keyboard (ie – an Android keyboard that can be selected while typing). It’s an app that simulates a keyboard and gives you a pad to type on. To send and read an email with this app you do the following:
  1. Install N’ko Pad
  2. Open N’ko Pad
  3. Type text Typing N'ko Pad
  4. Share it with your email/text app or copy to clipboard. (N’ko Pad does not actually share the actual N’ko script though — it puts it into a transliterated Latin form that does not conform with normal Latin-based orthography)Share N'ko Pad
  5. Your email/text app or the text you copy and paste will be largely unreadable Latin-based transliterationN'ko Pad Copy
  6. Send it
  7. Receive it
  8. Copy the Latin-based transliteration in the message.N'ko Pad Anonymous 2
  9. Open N’ko Pad
  10. Import the Latin-based transliteration via pasteN'ko Pad Import
  11. Read your message which has now been transliterated back into N’ko.Typing N'ko Pad

In short, the N’ko Pad app is work-around that allows N’ko users that both possess the app to send each other text messages/emails because they are sent in a Latin-based transliteration and then converted by the user inputing the text back into the app.

It has a couple shortcomings. First, it doesn’t allow for one to post on a website or tweet in N’ko. Second, if one sends an email using the app then one’s interlocutor is required to have app and read it in on their phone.

Multiling O Keyboard (+ N’ko keyboard plugin + Firefox for Android + N’ko Font Package)

The option and its title looks scary but bear with me because it offers better compatibility between devices and systems overall:

  1. Install MultiLing O Keyboard + Emoji (yes, you need the version that includes Emoji’s or it will not work)
  2. Install the N’ko keyboard plugin
  3. Install Firefox for Android
  4. Install the N’ko extension for Firefox
  5. Select the Multiling Keyboard (it’ll default into English and look like any other Android keyboard)
  6. Prepare an email (subject and header) or text message normally (notice how the Multiling keyboard is in English at this point).  Screenshot_2014-11-13-11-46-01
  7. Select N’ko by holding down the spacekey. email anonymous
  8. At this point, the N’ko Plugin will open because Android’s system doesn’t allow for natively rendering/typing N’ko within the email/texting app (no tice how the screenshot for point 9 is no longer in my Gmail app).
  9. Type your message in N’ko. Screenshot_2014-11-13-10-12-33
    1. If text message — send it as an image (since text messages don’t allow for sending the N’ko script) Screenshot_2014-11-13-10-52-22
    2. If email — “send as text” through your email app or copy the text and paste it into your email app which you already opened. It’ll appear blank because Android as a system doesn’t support N’ko but the text is actually there.
  10. Send the message by typing in the addressee’s name per usual. Screenshot_2014-11-13-10-50-23
  11. Open the message
    1. If text message — open the text with the image and read it. N'ko Text Test
    2. If email — open your email using Firefox. The message that appeared blank in Android will appear as N’ko in Firefox because of the N’ko extension.email test anonymous

While this system requires installing multiple apps and extensions it allows for actually writing/sending N’ko script — that is, one can send it to other platforms that have N’ko installed and they can read it, copy and paste it as they please — just like with any other text they receive. Critically, it also enables one to be able to browse N’ko script websites and even post on them! Notice how in the screenshot below I am able to browse an N’ko site and even directly input N’ko script into the search bar:

N'ko Input Android

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One thought on “Typing N’ko on Android

  1. […] This nuance about font explains why some letters appear as tofu when typing less dominant writing systems. For instance, N’ko, a non-Latin-, non-Arabic-based script for writing Manding was recognized by the Unicode Consortium in 2004 (see this document for the official proposal) and therefore in theory any computer using UTF-8 encoding recognizes the graphemes of N’ko. This unfortunately has not translated into actual rendering that would allow for N’ko to be digitally read and written by its users. This is because font designers frequently do not design their fonts to be used by all language users and do not necessarily want to design a stylistically unified  As such N’ko students and business have designed a number of workarounds over the years to facilitate its appearance on devices (see my previous post on writing in N’ko on Android). […]

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