Yamli, which means dictate in Arabic, is a tool that allows you to type in Arabic script without using an Arabic keyboard. An updated version of the popular Smart Keyboard, has just been released. The update, still in Beta, introduces rich text features and an improved interface.
They say that necessity is the mother of all invention, and Yamli is an absolute testament to that. During the war in Lebanon, in the summer of 2006, the team behind Yamli realized that most of the news coming out of Lebanon was in Arabic, and so you needed to type the search terms in Arabic, a daunting task if you don’t have access to an Arabic keyboard!
They also noticed the growing popularity of what they call Arabizi, the use of the Latin script to communicate in Arabic, and so they put two and two together and came up with a brilliant tool that converts your Arabizi into Arabic script.
For example, if you were trying to type Marhaba, or hello in Arabic, you would type “Mar7aba”, and Yamli will convert it to the Arabic script (“مرحبا”). Brilliant.
What really impresses me about the tool is the speed with which it handles this task. I could type at my normal pace and the tool would convert it without missing a beat. It also takes a page out of the T9 dictionary’s playbook displaying a list of options as you type.
While I was very impressed with the original tool, I am indifferent about the update but that’s not because of any failing on its part.
The update introduced some interesting features, including support for rich text, but I tend to use Yamli only when I need to type something in Arabic in another tool, so I would export whatever I’ve typed into Word, Powerpoint or Outlook which diminishes the value of those features for me. For others, however, I’m sure that these changes will be a welcome addition to what is already an excellent tool.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Yamli has plug-ins for Drupal, Word Press and FireFox.
Enjoy, and let us know what you think.