Because smartphones don’t have to just be in the one language. That’s how human culture thrives.
Motorola’s announced that any of its smartphones that can be updated to Android 13 will gain the option to use te ao Māori as a language option.
Motorola says that it’ll work not only within specific Māori characters, but also as a full setup language for new phones through a common language data repository.
Look, I don’t speak te ao Māori, but that doesn’t matter at all in any way. This is a simple story at one level, which is why it’s mostly my take on it that you can read here. As an aside, my apologies for any grammatical errors or assumptions I might make here, though I hope I haven’t.
So why does it matter if a phone supports an official language of New Zealand?
When you set up a new smartphone, you’re often faced with a range of language choices for setup. While it’s tempting (to borrow an old Dara Ó Briain joke) to select Suomi, you probably don’t, opting for English instead.
Which is fine and peachy if English happens to be your primary language. But what if it isn’t?
If you’re in one of the world’s big languages, it’s probably not a big thing; you can set up a phone in French, Italian, 日本語 or plenty of other options.
However, there’s a flattening effect here if you’re a speaker of a less-widely-spoken language, because it means that your native tongue isn’t supported.
That’s why moves like this matter. It’ll be fascinating to see if Motorola extends this to the many varied (and, to my understanding, highly complex) languages of Australia’s indigenous populations, because that’d be a very big challenge indeed – but one that’s also worth tackling for hopefully obvious reasons of cultural expansion and preservation.
On a much lesser note, while this site’s based in Australia, there’s a lot of synergy between the Australian and New Zealand tech markets, but it’s one that almost always leans towards an “Australia-first” kind of perspective. Interesting to see the reverse in action, though that does also (regrettably) happen already with EVs…
If you’re still scratching your head about what Suomi actually is, here’s a hint.