I purchased a Droid X phone in July 2010 with the specific desire to see the Android operating system support Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages as iOS (iPhone/iPod/iPad) does. While Android may someday have native support for ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i like iOS, there is an interim solution:
I found a developer, Menny Even Danan, who created a free utility called AnySoftKeyboard. Along with this core program, he offers keyboards for many different languages. I asked him if he would be willing to create a Hawaiian keyboard layout for his program; he quickly replied that he would be happy to, and within a few hours I had a test copy that worked beautifully. You can now download it from the Android Marketplace on your Android-powered device.
Please note that you need both the AnySoftKeyboard application and the Hawaiian keyboard layout. You’ll then need to activate both in the Settings in order to get it to work. Be sure to read the instructions carefully – you need to activate the AnySoftKeyboard in your Android “Language” settings, and then select Hawaiian as the input method by long pressing in a text field, and selecting “Input method”.
To generate the vowel-kahakō, simply hold down on the vowel in the soft keyboard, and you’ll see a popup list of vowels with those diacritics appear. The first one should be the vowel-kahako; just press on it and release. The ‘okina character is in the second row to the far right. For you Unicode geeks out there, please note that this is not U+02BB as Android’s default font currently does not support it. We are using U+8216 – the single open quote character. If an when Android includes the glyph at U+02BB, the keyboard will be updated.
I also suggest that for the time being you turn off “Show Suggestions” or you will find many Hawaiian words being replaced by English ones. I am currently working with Menny and Kevin Scannell at St. Louis University to generate a spell-check/predictive text document for Hawaiian that will be included in a future update of the Hawaiian keyboard.
If you download the keyboard and use or, or even if you’d simply like to mahalo Menny for his work, please consider leaving a donation in his PayPal account.
And a reminder for Android users: there is a special version of the Hawaiian language dictionaries on Ulukau for Android users. If you use the standard dictionary at http://m.wehewehe.org, you will see a square block for the ‘okina, since Android does not yet have the correct glyph. If you use this special page, you will see the same data, but with the single, open quote character displaying properly for the ‘okina.