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2010-02-21

Locales in Android


I live in Hong Kong, and my mother language is Chinese (or Cantonese). However, I don't really enjoy user interfaces in Chinese. The fact that digital world is based in US cannot be changed - most computer terms are originally in English, and they are often poorly translated to other languages, at least not for Chinese... That's why the OS I use is always in English, and I install English version of software, and I use English interface in my Nexus One.

Unfortunately, Nexus One has only limited choice in locales (DO NOT mix up with the Android app named "Locale") by default. In the list, only 中文(繁體) [zh-HK] or English (United States) [en-US] are applicable to me, but none of them is my preference.

Non-tech guys may ask what codes like zh-HK and en-US are. These are so called locales in the computer world. The first part is a language code defined in ISO 693 describing what language should be used, while the second part is a country code defined in ISO 3166-1 describing things like date/time format, phone number format and currency. Software is supposed to display values accordingly to this locale settings.

So you may notice the problem here. I can't have both English user interface and the Hong Kong set of formats... For example, when displaying phone numbers...

This is how it looks like when en-US is chosen.

The dashes look really strange to people living in Hong Kong. We seldom divide phone numbers into groups. And even when we do, we don't make 3-digit groups (but 4-digit groups). I really can't recognize the phone number at first glance...

Changing to the zh-HK locale make the phone number looks better...

But as said, I am not comfortable with Chinese user interfaces...

Finally, I found a solution tonight. Some nice guys in Japan developed the MoreLocale 2 app for Android. Thanks to this great app I can finally set my locale as en-HK, having the result like this:


Footnotes #1: Yes, I know someone will notice that the phone number is the one in a recent popular TV ads (in Chinese). :D

Footnote #2: Yes again. I am that kind of people who are over-focusing on tiny parts of overall experience. One simple disadvantage may kill a product in my mind, and one simple advantage may make me become die hard fans :)


3 comments:

  1. That's what i'm looking for! I also live in hong kong!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can you send text in Chinese to a device on a different platform (e.g. Windows Mobile phone or iPhone)?

    ReplyDelete
  3. > Can you send text in Chinese to a device on a different platform (e.g. Windows Mobile phone or iPhone)?

    Sorry for late reply, I just noticed the comment... :p
    And I can send text in Chinese to other platform with totally no problem. I think the locale setting only affects the UI?

    ReplyDelete

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