Category Archives: Apple

The Origins of Hawaiian Language Support in Mac OS and iOS: So You Want To Change The World?

BryanFryeOnly a handful of my friends will recognize the gentleman standing in the back of this picture, Brian Frye. He is one of the unsung heroes of getting technology support for ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i to where it is today. I’ve told this story to some folks privately, but never shared it publicly before. Since he’s not at Apple anymore, it’s safe to do so.

Brian was an Apple support engineer for Hawai‘i in the mid-late 1990s. During his time here we became friends, and he tried to help me find the individuals who could assist us in getting support for the Hawaiian language into Mac OS, but with little luck. He returned to work at Apple’s at headquarters after that. One day he was walking through the hallways of Apple’s headquarters, passed a couple of people talking in the hallway, and overheard one say to the other, “what other languages don’t we support?” Turns out they were system engineers working on language support in OS X. He stopped, introduced himself and said “there is a guy in Hawai‘i you need to talk to.” Me. The connection was made, and 18 months or so of email exchanges, swapped files, and testing followed. On August 24, 2002, Mac OS 10.2 shipped, and in it were a Hawaiian keyboard, sorting routines and some translated strings (mostly date and time related).

The fact that iOS’s core software was largely based on OS X meant that a lot of support for Hawaiian that is baked into OS X transferred to iOS. Brian had left Apple by then, but the connections he helped forge remained, and we were able to get them to add the ability to type the ‘okina and kahakō, and eventually a Hawaiian keyboard in iOS. Other friends have helped along the way, but as they are still at Apple it is best if I don’t name names here. But none of it would have happened if not for that chance meeting in Cupertino. Mahalo nui, Brian. If any of you have ever typed an ‘okina or kahakō on any Apple device, you should mahalo him as well. And mahalo Beryl Morimoto for sharing the pic.

Pipi holo ka‘ao…

Visual Basic Scripts Back In Word 2011 For Mac

For whatever reason, I never did warm up to MS Word 2007 for Mac, and continued to use Word 2004 until recently. When I received my new MacBookPro 13′, I decided to abandon Office 2004 and make the leap to Office 2011. I’m glad I did, and just noticed something pretty cool. The ability to run Visual Basic macros-removed from Office 2007–is back. This means that the VB macros I originally wrote to convert documents written in our old HI font system to Unicode work again. So if you happen to have older documents that have Hawaiian text in the HI format, you can easiliy convert them to Unicode. While probably less useful, there is also a macro that converts Unicode-formatted Hawaiian back to HI font format.

And of course if you don’t know what any of this means, it probably doesn’t affect you. Please ignore.

New Windows 8 Operating System Supports The Hawaiian Language

While still a devout Macintosh user, I’m extremely grateful for friends at Microsoft who shepherded this project through to completion, and saw that the work we did stayed embedded as Windows 8 was being developed. I’ll be documenting how to activate the keyboard and type the ‘okina and kahakō later, but if you have Win 8, please feel free to explore and experiment.

And I would like to ask my fellow Macintosh aficionados to refrain from the normal litany of Windows bashing. This is significant development for the language that will help other important projects move forward.

I’m cautiously optimistic that this will be my swan song when it comes to technology and the Hawaiian language. This PR piece went out today from the UH media office.

Kahului, HI — November 8, 2012 — In a major step forward in promoting and perpetuating the Native Hawaiian language, Microsoft’s recent launch of Windows 8 includes support for the Hawaiian language, thanks to a collaborative effort with University of Hawaiʻi faculty.

The Windows 8 operating software includes a Hawaiian keyboard layout in the operating system, many fonts containing the diacritical marks used in the Hawaiian language, and other localized resources such as the ability toshow days of the week and months in Hawaiian.  This development was made possible by the joint efforts of staff of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Microsoft.

Keola Donaghy, formerly of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani and now a faculty member in the music department of University of Hawai‘i Maui College, collaborated with programmers in Microsoft’s Local Languages Program for several years to develop these resources and see that they were included inWindows 8. “We’re getting very close to the day that Hawaiian speakers will be able to take for granted the fact that they can simply type in Hawaiian when they buy a new computer, tablet, or smart phone without installing special software,” Donaghy said.

“Providing technology support in a native language is critical to helping people access the tools they need to create better economic opportunities,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft.  “Language preservation and support also helps preserve cultural identities for the next generation of learners.”

Keiki Kawae‘ae‘a, a faculty member of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani added, “We are thrilled that Microsoft has recognized the significance of the Hawaiian language to its people, and how important it is for us to be able to use it on our computers. Given the high percentage of personal computers that ship with and run the Windows operating system, this is one of the most significant developments that we’ve made.”

Language support for computer operating systems and programs has historically depended on the number of speakers of the language and perceived market. Major European and Asian languages have been widely supported by software vendors for many years, while speakers of native American, Polynesian, and other indigenous languages have had to depend on customized fonts and keyboards simply to be able to view, type and print the characters used in their languages on personal computers.

However, in recent years major operating system and software vendors such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple Computer, Inc. have recognized the importance of supporting a wider array of languages.

More Details on iOS 5’s Hawaiian Language Support

Last week Apple released iOS 5, the latest version of their operating system for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. There has always been some support for Hawaiian language in iOS. Since it shares some core software with OS X, and OS X has supported Hawaiian since 2002, iOS has had the ability to display the ‘okina and kahakō since it first shipped, and we were delighted when some of our translated strings showed up in that first version as well. With version 3, iOS has been able to generate the ʻokina and kahakō by pressing and holding the vowels and selecting those characters from a list of vowel and diacritic combinations that pops up. iOS 5 takes this support to a while new level.

There is now a Hawaiian keyboard in the OS. Why is this significant, since you could previously generate the ‘okina and kahakō? First, it is a boon for iPad owners who like to use external keyboards. Previously, there was no way to type the ‘okina or kahakō easily using an external keyboard. Now, if you select the Hawaiian keyboard in the iOS general preferences, you type the ‘okina and kahakō in the same way that you type them on Mac OS X – by simply typing the apostrophe for the ʻokina, and holding down the option key while you type the kahakō.

Another feature on the new soft keyboard (the one that displays itself on the screen), is that there is a new way to type the ʻokina. While you can still long-hold the vowels and select the vowel-‘okina from the list that pops up. Now, there is also a stand-alone kahakō on the right side, next to the ‘okina. If you type a vowel and then press this key, it will insert the kahakō over that vowel. This is cool as this is how you would spell out the vowel combination ‘ā-kō, ‘ē-kō, ī-kō, etc. I’m sure those that use the soft keyboard exclusively and want to type in Hawaiian will love it. Also note that the return key has “Kāho‘i” on it. I love it.

The final new feature is that there is now spell-checking for Hawaiian, based on an extensive word list that we provided to Apple. It’s not perfect, but none are. The spell-check and suggestions are based largely on the letters that surround the intended vowel. In the example shown on this graphic, the “g” that is mistakenly typed is next to the letter “h” on the keyboard, so it works well. One kind of typo it does not seem to catch is if you fail to type a word-initial ‘okina, and quite often inside the word as well. If you spell ‘ōlelo as olelo, it will not suggest ‘okina as a potential correct spelling. Hopefully this kind of situation can be addressed in future updates, but it’s still a huge improvement.

Mahalo again to Apple for their support of ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together: More ‘Ōlelo Support in iOS

A new iPhone was announced today, the iPhone 4S, and the response to Apple’s press conference was a bit lukewarm. Many were expecting the iPhone 5 and/or iOS5 today. But one of the more exiting developments for us was found on the specification sheet for the phones (tip o’ the cap to Joseph Erb for the heads up): there will be a Hawaiian keyboard and spell-check document included. Yes, we’ve had support for the ‘okina and kahakō in the iPhone and iPad for a while; however, while you can generate them from the soft keyboard by long-holding your finger on a vowel, you could not type it when your device (iPads, mostly) was attached to an external keyboard. With this new development you will be able to do so. As soon as these features show up I’ll discuss them further. I believe all you will need to do to activate the Hawaiian spell-checker is select the Hawaiian keyboard.

Mahalo e ko Apple i ke kāko‘o mau ‘ana i ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i!

Apple Fonts With ‘Okina and Kahakō

I got tired of trying to remember every font that does and does not have the ‘okina and/or kahakō in it, so using the Apple Font Tools I came up with a spreadsheet that shows which fonts have which characters. It’s available for download at As always, there is no guarantee or tech support offered. Please don’t email asking why you don’t have a particular font on your system. Perhaps it’s just bad luck. Hopefully someday Apple will add all of these characters to all of the fonts that ship with OS X. Or OS XI, or…

Apple Fonts With ‘Okina and Kahakō

Leokī Users: FirstClass app for iPhone/iPad/iTouch!

This is pretty cool. We’ve been using FirstClass software for the past 17 or so years to operate Leokī, which was the first telecommunications server to ever operate completely in a Polynesian or native language within the United States. It took them ages to get Unicode support into it, and just recently they released a FirstClass app for iPhone/iPad/iTouch. It seems to work flawlessly, handling the ‘okina and kahakō with no issues. I love it when a plan comes together.

Unfortunately the app is not localized into Hawaiian like we’ve done for Macintosh and Windows users, but, hey, it’s a start! Now back to trying to get  a Hawaiian keyboard into Android OS…


Macron Support in iPhone 3.0 Update

I laid out $9.95 for the iPhone 3.0 update for my iPod Touch last night, and just discovered why it was worth it – the standard US Keyboard now allows you to insert the vowel-kahak? characters and ‘okina. Here’s how you do it:

When you want to type an ‘okina-vowel, touch and hold down your finger over the vowel for a second or two, and it will pop-up a list of available diacritic characters (see the graphic at right to see how this list looks when I held down over the letter “a” on the keyboard). Whether the vowel-macron is to the right or the left depends on which vowel you are trying to type.

For the ‘okina, press the “123” button to get to the keyboard with numbers and other characters. Hold down your finger on the apostrophe, and it will pop-up a list of curly quotes. Select the one that looks like a small number “6”.

That’s it! Another small step forward for Polynesian languages.

More To iPod Touch Hawaiian Support

I posted a few days ago about finding the Hawai‘i region in the iPod Touch, and apparently the system-level support is even better than I thought. I set up a few locations using the Weather application, and found that it displayed the days of the week in Hawaiian as well. Too cool.

What would be cooler would be to have the Hawaiian keyboard, too.

I did find that I could not post this screenshot to this blog using WordPress for iPhone application – I kept getting: “Communication Error. Operation could not be completed (NSXMLParserErrorDomain error 5.” Hmmm.