According to reports, India has anywhere between 40 and 70 million smartphone users. Put that in perspective with the 900 million plus mobile phone subscribers in India. The growth of smartphone adoption is only going to increase in the coming years. Having said that, only 10% of India’s population speaks English, and soon enough, we’ll have as many smartphone users. What next?
The answer to that question is, a lot of things. Of them, language is an important one. Attempting to cater to all of India’s 22 languages is going to be a challenge. In fact, this is true for the rest of the world as well; the next wave of internet users are not going to be English-speaking.
This foresight, especially in the mobile apps space, is paying dividends in India. Recently, local language chat app Plustxt got acquired by One97. Another one of Plustxt’s compatriots is JusMobi’s JusChat. Along with catering to many Indian languages, it also provides exhaustive foreign language support. However, while Plustxt transliterates, JusChat also translates.
So will you use translation over transliteration? And is it something that you’ll use regularly? Here’s what we think -
What is it about?
JusChat is a chat app. Like Whatsapp, you can chat with people on your phonebook who also use JusChat. The regular conversation-like chat layout and the use of regular emoticons is no different from any other chat app in the market.
Its real differentiator is its translation feature. So I would type something in English, and I would use the translation option. In this option, you enter text and in the text box and the translate box will translate your English sentence to a grammatically correct one in the language of your choice.
Translation vs Transliteration
I’ve used the two methods before this and I’m more inclined to using transliteration. While I don’t have to go through the trouble of having to remember the corresponding Hindi word, I’m still a lot more used to typing in a local language in English. Using Reverie’s technology, Plustxt renders what I’ve typed in English in the language of my choice. JusChat also does this.
In some cases, I like JusMobi’s translation. For example, I found out that article is lekh in Hindi. However, “I will let you know” was translated to “Aapko batana hai”, which is not what I wanted to convey to the recipient.
Also, the translation process takes you out of the chat view, with you making those few extra clicks. Might not sound as much, but these things count in the long run.
A foreign focus
JusMobi’s language repository is more international, than Indian. It will be interesting to know if foreign users will use such a service. Most Android phones come with the option of working in a completely different language. But there are some languages on the list which Android does not support, which is a good differentiator.
JusChat’s revenue model is tied to translation. You’re allotted a total of 1000 characters, and the number of characters you translate are deducted from this quota. You can buy more characters from the JusChat site, starting at Rs 150 for 25,000 characters, which I think is reasonable.
So, should you use it?
As with any chat app of JusChat’s nature, the frequency of use is directly proportional to the number of friends that use the app. There are features like group chat which can handle as many as 100 people in a group (which would make it a crowd chat or a forum) and the app itself is quite easy to use, barring a few glitches. There are some UX issues - for example, after you send a message, the virtual keyboard retracts. Also, every time you exit the app and come back to it, JusChat has to sign in again, making the user wait.
JusChat isn’t exactly eye candy, but it functions just fine. Yes, the design isn’t great, but it does have a powerful translation engine. It’s got the major Indian languages on its translation list as well as a lot of foreign languages.
If you have use for the translation function, JusChat is a great option. However, I do think apps like JusChat will become more and more relevant with the increase of non-English internet users. When that happens, JusChat can cater to a significant chunk of that population which uses a smartphone.
Download JusChat here.