Japanese Input on S60 (continued)

Published on 29 October 2008

It works now!

About a week ago I wrote about Japanese input on S60 in general, and on my Nokia E71 in particular. Well, I’ve finally found a solution that satisfies me. That’s in 2 steps, and it involves a little bit more that installing packages. But the only “system modification” is done on the MicroSD card, so I feel like it’s pretty safe. If things go wrong, you can just pull the MicroSD card and boot without it. Anyway, if things go really wrong (it was fine for me but I don’t know what can happen for you) don’t blame me. Everything you do is your own responsibility, so don’t follow my advice if you’re not comfortable in tweaking your phone. Also, please don’t ask me for help to setup your phone. All I know is written here, if it works for you it’s great but if it doesn’t I can’t help more.

Important note: that should work on most Nokia phones, but there is no guarantee that it will work with other brands. A reader reported that it doesn’t work well on a Samsung i550.

In short: you can read Japanese for free, and you can write Japanese for ¥5,000 (roughly $50 depending on the rate).

Reading Japanese

The first step is making sure you can read Japanese on your phone. If it’s like mine, out of the box you see squares if you visit Japanese websites, or view emails in Japanese.

All you have to do, is visit this page and follow instructions:

http://japanesefont.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-install-japanese-fonts-on-non.html

In short, that will involve:

  • Downloading the Nokia SDK that contains the Japanese font
  • Copy the font to your MicroSD, in the right folder with a name that mirrors your existing fonts (so you don’t have to override your fonts; you just add fonts that take priority)
  • Reboot, and you’re done

Now, if you do it you will notice that the whole font is changed, i.e. even English text looks different than before. The font is “thiner”. That was my grip with +J, I really didn’t like the font they were recommending. In this case it’s different: the font looks really good. This is the font that Nokia uses in the phone they sell in Japan.

(Alternatively, you could spend €30 on a solution full of DRM that I don’t even feel the need to cite… Who would want that? Additionally, I don’t even know if it’s compatible with +J.)

Here you go, you can visit Japanese websites! If that’s all you want, if you don’t care much about input, you can stop here. But if you want to be able to input Japanese, read on.

Writing Japanese

Now you need an input method. I said in my previous post that +J was a great, complete solution that rivals what you get on Japanese phone and even computers. However, the font they offer didn’t look good to me.

At that point we have a phone capable to read Japanese with a good-looking font so we don’t need to install the ugly one they propose. You do need a fairly good Japanese level to install and use +J because all doc and menus are in Japanese.

Before you install +J, make sure it works for your device. Read the supported devices list. It should work on a S60 3rd edition, 3rd edition FP1 and some FP2 devices. It has only been tested with Nokia devices.

Here are the steps:

  • Go to the +J page
  • Download “+J for S60本体” (do NOT download the font)
  • Follow the instructions to install +J from the PDF documentation (SKIP the “install the font” part)

…And now you have full working Japanese input on your phone! But for 30 days only, that’s the duration of the test version. You will need to spend ¥5,000 for the full version - but believe me, it’s worth it and there’s no DRM.

Or, for more money (€60 - no joke) you can have a solution that doesn’t work very well, is full of DRM and clutters your context menu with input-related entries. That’s the product that I cited in my older post, but I don’t recommend it.

Conclusion

Some comments:

  • My only grip (but it’s minor) is that switching from English input to Japanese input on a E71 is done with a three keys combination. Not very convenient.
  • French accents still work. I mean for display, because my phone is a qwerty one, English OS, and I couldn’t input accents before anyway. Not sure what would happen on a French phone, maybe you lose the ability to input accents? Maybe you need to input in qwerty even if your keys are labeled azerty?
  • By default, +J will be in 9-keys mode (for phones with just a phone pad). You need to switch that to romaji for the E71.
  • By default, all applications will start in hiragana input mode (to input Japanese as opposed to English). Unless you live in Japan, you’ll want to change that setting too.
TAGS: japanese  phone  s60  tech