Urdu is a digitially dying language and I try to make the perfect point

A week with Nastaleeq on iOS 9

Apple released its newest OS for the iOS ecosystem at its flagship WWDC 2015 event. While the final version is scheduled to be released in August, developers are able to get their hands on the beta version from Apple’s dev site (FYI also out on torrents, although this is not legal). While the OS has numerous significant changes from is predecessor one of the most awaiting and interesting update particularly for the South Asian iOS users is the builtin support for Nastaleeq style for the Urdu language. To find more about how this came into being, read Mudassir Azeemi’s write up documenting his efforts in getting the Urdu keyboard supported by Apple

Getting up and ready with Urdu

  1. Install iOS 9 on your iPad/iPhone/iPod
  2. Go to Settings > General >Keyboards, add Urdu (this will add the Urdu keyboard but in the Naskh style)

3. Settings > General > Language & Region > Other Languages

4. Choose Urdu

5. Give English priority (depends on your preference though)

The Experience

The style is still under development so support is pretty buggy, here are some examples


Messaging looks great, although the font has trouble staying inside bounds, there is a rendering problem with some of the urdu alphabets (do chashmi hay in particular).

Pro-tip: Even auto correct works, such a blessing.
Note: Even though the text at your end is displayed in Nastaleeq, the recipient of your message will be seeing it in Naskh

Notice that the ‘kaaf’ of rakhain cuts into the recipient's name. Also notice the awkward Urdu I wrote
Seeing the same message in detail view causes problems




Rendering on Twitter is solid, love this tweet tho


Reading Urdu on the Facebook app never looked so sexy, I usually skipped these posts as I already find Urdu challenging to read and Naskh fonts make it totally unreadable for me (too much brain processing required in short).

What’s next

All speculation but Apple should be working on fixing the language bugs and rendering issues for its final release of the iOS in August. Adopting Nastaleeq will not only help protect Urdu as a language but also help local entrepreneurs in building quality urdu content (Urdu copywriters will be a sexier job). It’s on Microsoft and Android now to support Nastaleeq and help this beautiful language be expressed properly in the world wide web!

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