Thursday, August 27, 2009

OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard): New Language Features

Here are the new language features I've seen so far in Snow Leopard 10.6.0:

1) Chinese handwriting input is possible for laptops with Multi-Touch trackpads when using Apple Chinese IM's.

2) The Chinese Pinyin input method is improved and some new Heiti and Hiragino CJK fonts are provided.

3) Polish is included the list of built-in spellcheckers, and you can now add .dic/.aff format dictionaries from other sources (e.g. OpenOffice ). Also you can set the system wide spell checking language without changing the system language itself.

4) The ability to set the keyboard layout as the same for all docs or different for each doc, present in Tiger but omitted in Leopard, has been restored.

5) Bidirectional text (e.g. English/Hebrew) now has system-wide settings for split-cursor, and for RTL, LTR, and Default text directions. (But it looks like RTL problems in iWork/iWeb have not been addressed).

6) VoiceOver is now able to handle all 18 system languages (but only English is provided by Apple).

7) Unicode is upgraded to the latest version (5.1 of 4/4/2008)

8) A "US International - PC" keyboard layout is included, which will be welcomed by Switchers accustomed to using this for W. European languages. (Another has been available on the Web for some time, however.)

9) Hitting Space while holding down Apple/Command will produce a list of active keyboard layouts in the center of the screen, which can be selected via the mouse or the up/down arrows.

10.6 has no new localizations for OS X or any new languages for reading and input.

Also it appears that File > Get Info no longer has a Languages tab, which makes it hard to run an app in a language other than that of the OS. A workaround may be here.

33 comments:

Li Wei said...

The much awaited Chinese handwriting recognition technology has finally arrived (or migrated, rather) with the new Snow Leopard OS. I had a brief hands-on moment last night with the new feature. Yes, you will need one of newer MacBooks or MacBook Pros that have a multitouch trackpad in order to be functional. The user experience of this feature should be the same as that of iPhone - after all the technology is derived from iPhone. That means, as long as you know how to write Chinese characters in CORRECT stroke order, the recognition rate is very high (95%). As on iPhone, input is limited to one character at a time. In other words, there is no competition with keyboard input methods in terms of speed. But this can be changed when the rumored tablet Mac (hopefully) with phrase-input handwriting input becomes available ...

Magnus Lewan said...

So far I have not been able to use the Chinese trackpad input in any productive way. It may be a matter of practice, but as I cannot see on the trackpad where my finger is, unless I'm drawing with it, it all seems very confusing.

I'm sure some people will learn to love it, but I'm so far not one of them. The iPhone version is far superior in my opinion.

Magnus Lewan said...

I think I found the Hei-font(s). It is all very confusing.

Since quite some time Mac OS X has had two font files called STHeiti Light.ttf and STHeiti Regular.ttf.

With Snow Leopard it is now some hopefully controlled chaos.

In Fontbook you have a family called STHeiti. It contains a Light version with the unique Latin name STXihei, and a Regular version with a unique name STHeiti. They are in the font files 华文细黑.ttf and 华文黑体.ttf.

So far so good.

In addition you have one family called Heiti SC and another called Heiti TC. The Light version of both those families are in the same physical file: STHeiti Light.ttc. The Medium version of both families are in the same physical file: STHeiti Medium.ttc.

I'm sure there is a reason for this. No one would be able to dream up a chaos like that without a good logical reason. However, I have not the faintest idea what the reason would be.

Anonymous said...

The "multilingual spell check" option seems to be disabled now. I often compose emails in two languages (Spanish and English). The spell check in Leopard would recognize the two languages (because I had selected multilingual in spell check) and correct for both languages. The "multilingual" option seems to be missing now. Any one know how to do that?

goofy said...

The Telugu Pothana font is no longer displayed correctly in Safari or Textedit.

Magnus Lewan said...

Anonymous, I am not too happy with how it works either, but there is some logic to it. If you only use English and Spanish, you go System Preferences > Langusge & Text > Text and click on Spelling: "Automatic by Language" and then "Setup". There you can make sure that the system only checks against English and Spanish.

The problem is that the spell checker seems to check language by sentence, asi, se quieres hacer algo half Spanish, half English in the same sentence, the spell checker will inevitably fail on some words.

If you start writing in Spanish, the system will (hopefully) correctly identify that as Spanish, but all subsequent English words will be underlined as wrong, until the English words become a majority, at which stage the Spanish words that originally were "correct" suddenly turn "incorrect".

I really preferred how it used to work before.

Tseng-tsz said...

The main thing that makes CJK fonts huge is the 'glyf' table. The .ttc font format was created for the specific purpose of allowing closely related fonts to share use the same data tables. Using STHeiti Light.ttc for both the TC and SC versions of the font means that they can share the 'glyf' table instead of having one each. This is a significant space savings.

This sort of approach is quite common with CJK fonts. It just hasn't been used by Apple in the past.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for Tom to notice the changes made to Geneva.

Tseng-tsz said...

Goofy, do you have screen shots or sample texts to illustrate the problems with Pothana?

Tom Gewecke said...

Tseng-tsz -- here is what I used:

http://www.xenotypetech.com/samplepdfs/TL_Sample.html

goofy said...

Tseng-tsz, here's a screenshot

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2513/3882061008_3c655b956b_o.png

Minh Nguyễn said...

As someone pointed out on my blog, the Vietnamese Unikey VIQR input method finally works in Snow Leopard. In Leopard, the option was available but completely non-functional. This improvement makes my VIQR keyboard layout, which you previously recommended, largely unnecessary for Snow Leopard users.

nickshanks said...

@goofy: Pothana displays fine for me in Safari on SL. Please contact me via email if you're still having problems.

nickshanks said...

By the way, the xenotype tech samples are not always valid Unicode. Evaluate using http://te.wikipedia.org/ instead.

Jerry said...

What about support for classical mongolian? Has that come, or is there any chance it will come in the near future??

Tom Gewecke said...

Jerry -- No, not yet, and I don't know what their plans are for this.

Asta said...

Does anyone happen to know if snow leopard supports entering your own characters in the private charater range of unicode? I know that you can do this (rather painfully) on a windows machine with EUDCEdit, but I've yet to figure out if it's possible for the mac

Tom Gewecke said...

Asta - No, OS X does not come with a character editor. You need to create a font with a free app like FontForge, install it, and then you enter any character you want via Character Palette or a custom keyboard layout (which can be made with Ukelele).

Ambarisha said...

Nickshanks... Pothana is not displaying characters properly in Safari. But it is displaying characters (though in correct). But in Firefox I could not able to see any character except boxes. Can you guide me?

Tom Gewecke said...

Ambarisha -- For the test to be accurate, you must make sure that you do not have any Windows Telugu fonts on your machine which could be substituting in Safari. Is that the case?

What version exactly of Firefox are you talking about?

Ambarisha said...

Tom, I don't have any windows Telugu font except Pothana. Firefox I'm using is 3.6.3

Muthu said...

Ambarisha,

I have Pothana on my SL 10.6.2 machine and it displays quite well on TextEdit and FireFox 3.6.3

I believe there is also a Windows version of Pothana. This will not display correctly on the Mac. You need to get the Mac version which has AAT tables.

Ambarisha said...

Muthu,

Thanks for the reply. If you don't mind can you mail the version you are using. Thanks in advance.

Muthu said...

I'll be happy to - if I know which address to send it to :)

Ambarisha said...

My mail id is ambarisha@gmail.com. Please send me the font.

Ambarisha said...

NickShanks,

I could able to see telugu pothana in safari but the problem is similar to Goofy's. Check the screen shot he provided. Any solution? Please mail me on my mail:ambarisha@gmail.com

goofy said...

I have fixed the problem I was having with Telugu. I *think* it was because the Code 2000 font (or maybe another free font) was being used instead of Pothana. I deleted Code 2000, and problem solved.

Ambarisha said...

Tom, NickShanks, Muthu,

You can see the problem I'm facing here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ambarisha_darbha/sets/72157623886296542/

nickshanks said...

Well since I don't know how to read Telugu, I am having difficulty spotting the errors on those scaled-down screen shots. Clearly you are just getting boxes on the first one, but that might be a different problem. What web address is that? I can test the page here to see if it is the font or something relating to your setup.

MurthyB said...

Is there Telugu font support for iPhone and iPad?

Tom Gewecke said...

MurphyB -- No, except when using the Opera Mini browser. See

http://m10lmac.blogspot.com/2010/05/viewing-hindi-tamil-bengali-websites.html

Lovely said...

@nickshanks, @goofy, @Ambarisha and others:

I have the same problem: SL 10.6.3, FF 3.6.8. Can't see pothana Telugu font (example site: http://eenadu.net). Actually the site displays the font for an instant and then turns to boxes.

My /Library/Fonts directory doesnt have any stray fonts like 2000 etc.

Help?
thanks

Anonymous said...

Until recently I simply used Mac OS X 10.4 and the pin yin input worked great. Now I use OS 10.6 and I don't quite see how this could be an improvement. How does one enter 請, for example? If I start typing q... nothing comes up. I can type "qing" and it gets underlined when 繁體拼音 is active as if the engine is trying to look it up, but no character pop-up window appears. Same with "xing". Nothing happens when I start typing x ... How does one enter 行 on OS 10.6, for example, using pin yin?

Tom Gewecke said...

The best place to ask chinese input questions is

http://groups.google.com/group/chinesemac