Another small step for a Tibetan keyboard on Android

There has been a lot of excitement this week about the robust support for the Tibetan written language in Apple’s iOS 4.2 for iPhone and iPad. This is a fantastic achievement that many contributed to, and that Apple should be loudly applauded for.

Unfortunately, the state of Tibetan on Android is still poor, but not hopeless. While Tom Meyer has provided a great starting point for rendering text properly, I still am not aware of any means for inputing Tibetan characters. With that in mind, I set out to investigate the ability to create a new Tibetan “Input Method” (as Google calls it) for Android, and quickly realized that one could just write a Language Pack add-on for the open-source AnySoftKeyboard project. This solution still requires you to root your phone and install the Dzongkha”རྫོང་ཁ font, but is still a step in the right direction!

You can find the open-source code for my new project, the Tibetan AnySoftKeyboard Language Pack on Github. If you would like to try it out, you must have a rooted device with the Dzongkha”རྫོང་ཁ font installed, then install the “AnySoftKeyboard” from the Android Market, then you can install the first test Add-on APK file, and the Tibetan option should come up in keyboard settings.

Below you can see a screenshot of the initial keyboard writing text into the OI Notepad app. It appears to be properly stacking characters as well, but I may be wrong. Also the current implementation does not yet support the SHIFT key or other modifiers. I would love to have some help setting up the rest of the QWERTY mappings in this XML file. Otherwise, any other comments, feedback, advice or pointers to other Android Tibetan keyboard work would be much appreciated!


  1. There is for Nokia N900 and some other models which run Linux (Maemo & MeeGo) – but not as far as I know for those that run the Symbian OS.

  2. Excellent, and thanks for the link to the new, as well. I remember now someone mentioned that when I was last in Dharamsala. Much of this support comes from Linux becoming so pervasive in the mobile space.

  3. The reason you do not need to root to support a Korean input method, is that the font is already built in to the Android OS by default. There is no way to add fonts to the system wide OS with Android, other than first rooting, unfortunately. You can enable fonts on an app-by-app basis, so that, one could release a Tibetan notepad or email client. This is one possibility that is being investigated.

    However, the ultimate goal is to get Google to update the fonts that they package into Android, in the same way Apple has for iOS 4.2.

  4. i installed the keyboard on sumsung galaxy 3 and i got till your second screen shot i.e tibetan(Dzongkha) with checkbox. But i can see the keyboard when i click for text testing. I installed the Dzongkha font also. Did i miss some steps?

  5. how do you do stacking with your keyboard? if i want to want to write e.g “gyal” in tibetan.

  6. Please don't get mad, Imliushi. The goal is to start an open-source project so I can get the help I need to finish the work. I will add the second keyboard soon, once I figure out how to support the “SHIFT” key 🙂

    As for stacking on my Android 2.2, it seems to work automatically now. What version of Android are you using, Pema? I know that in Android 1.x it did not work properly.

  7. Thanks a lot:).I dont have a Android I have installed this SoftKeyboard on Android 2.1 SDK emulator,but i dont know how to replace font in this SDK.and i also sent it to my Tibetan Frens who have Android Phone,they have rooted their phone and replace DroidSans.ttf(English Font,because Tibetan or Dzongkha Font also has English Alphabets,if replace DroidSansFallback.ttf will lose support for other languages,like Chinese,Japanese,etc.) with Tibetan Font,but they don't know how to get it render properly.they told me that it can't type the Tshek( ་ ) and Shad( ། ) in Tibetan like those Punctuation in English.I think you may do it like it as that in this (,that would be very good.Thanks! 🙂

  8. the android version is 2.1. there is no problem stacking an alphabet with these(0f72, 0f74,0f7a,0f7c) characters. i am wondering how stack works automatically on 2.2. On computer we use different keyboard layout and if we want to use stack word “gyal” then we write ragayl on keyboard where “a” is use for stacking. can you please try to write gyal on your phone and check whether it works.

  9. good to know about DroidSans.ttf replacement. I replaced DroidSanFallbacks.ttf and lost Chinese font.

  10. I am also working on a combined Dzongkha+DroidSansFallback font so we can have all languages supported. However, honestly combining TTF files is harder than it seems!

    I just met with Lobsang Monlam in NYC this evening, and he has offered to create a more optimized version of his font for use on Android, so I will also be investigating that.

  11. “Dhongkha” in “Created with Dhongkha Font” should be “Dzongkha”རྫོང་ཁ

  12. ཤིན་ཏུ་བཀའ་དྲིན་ཆེ་ལགས། རོགས་བྱེད་འདོད་ཀྱང་གང་ནས་མགོ་བརྩམས་དགོས་པ་མི་ཤེས། འདིའི་སྐོར་གྱི་ལག་རྩལ་དེ་ལས་ཀྱང་མི་ཤེས་པས་་་་་་

  13. Thanks man, from bottom of my heart ,You Have done a Excellent job.Thanks again for sharing code .This hint give me a proper push that helps me to get what I want……………………..


  14. Hi Nathan,
    I'm doing a research project on hacktivism. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions from a technologist's perspective. Shoot me an email if you are interested at

  15. Tibetan! version 5 is name for a program that adds Tibetan typing capability to
    Word and WordPerfect for Windows.

    The package for WordPerfect contains a keyboard for typing Tibetan text
    into WordPerfect.  It is not easy to use though, because of
    restrictions in WordPerfect itself. And etc…

  16. i have tried everything from the anriod market…but  i failed to set the language into tibetan yet…so please help the simplest way…thank u very much

  17. Thanks for the good job you guys are doing. We need tibetan script available on iPhone, iPad and other smartphones. This is the way to keep our language alive while in Tibet it is being discouraged actively. Thank you againi.

  18. There is no full language setting for Tibetan. You can only install a font and keyboard and some apps. What type of android device do you have?

  19. hey nathan i really need ur help, a frd of mine has a samsung galaxy tab 8.9 inch, android version 3.1.
    I allready help him install the tibetan keyboard, which works fine, untill i type in browers, it only appears square boxes. is there a way to install a font? without rooten? if not i will try to root for him

  20. For Samsung device, you must install the Monlam FlipFont for Samsung, which you can find in the Android Market:

    or for download direct download here:

    You should also try the new BhoView app for reading text and websites. Direct download here: or Android Market:

  21. Hi I’m not Tibetan, that’s the first obstacle,
    I Like to write Tibetan on my android phone,
    I Installed dzongka Monlam;
    I also installed multiling keyboard and my script,
    I can write Tibetan, but the keyboard gives only blocks, but I see Tibetan characters, so that is already something, but I like the see a proper Tibetan keyboard, where I can find out how to write, rata’s yata’s, so where is the function key.
    It seems I’m close to write Tibetan, anyone can help me out?

  22. Georges you need to select monlam bodyig font from setting/display/screen display/font style/MonlamBodyig and then restart your android mobile.

  23. HI. I have an HTC Desire HD. Trying to write tibetan. Installed Monlam but no results. Help anyone. Paul

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